May 29, 2009

Hulu Desktop vs. Hulu in Browser vs. Nexflix (Flash vs. Silverlight?)

For a while now we've had a computer hooked up to our large screen television and stereo system. A couple months back I upgraded the motherboard, CPU, and memory so that we could start using the Windows 7 release candidate and Windows Media Center on it. The new hardware also meant we could play back high definition video.

Aside from playing back photos in Picasa and various video files, we also stream music using Pandora or play from our library using WinAMP or Media Center. For streaming video, we'd been using Hulu a bit (which is Flash based) and Netflix (which is Silverlight).

Yesterday we tried out Hulu Desktop and attempted to watch the Glee pilot. Hulu desktop crashed on the first run after install (could be a Windows 7 issue) but then ran fine upon restarting it. But the video quality was low and quite jerky. It used a lot of CPU too. This made me wonder if it was really taking advange of the video capabilities of our system.

It was bad enough that we switched to watching the show using the browser-based streaming. Hitting the full-screen high quality version acually played better there and used less CPU. So the desktop application clearly needs some performance tuning.

I compare all of this with Netflix streaming which uses Silverlight and the difference is clear, even in 720p resolution we tend to keep our display set to. Microsoft has done a good job of tuning Silverlight for video. If I recally, they have very good H264 support built-in.

That said, I'm glad to see Hulu Desktop out. It makes a lot of sense to have an app that can be controlled via IR remote instead of the wireless keyboard we had been using.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:46 AM

May 27, 2009


As previously noted, I've been playing with XtraDB a bit at work. Over a week ago I decided to test compression on one of our larger tables and it took a bit longer than I expected.

(root@db_server) [db_name]> ALTER TABLE table_name \
Query OK, 825994826 rows affected (8 days 14 hours 23 min 47.08 sec)
Records: 825994826  Duplicates: 0  Warnings: 0


It's too bad we couldn't use all the cores on the machine for the ALTER TABLE, huh?

On the plus side, the file sizes aren't too bad.


-rw-rw---- 1 mysql mysql 1638056067072 2009-05-24 09:23 table_name.ibd


-rw-rw---- 1 mysql mysql  587617796096 2009-05-27 07:14 table_name.ibd

I'll have more to say about XtraDB and the compression options in a later post. But given the interest that my Twitter messages about this big ALTER TABLE generated yesterday, I figured I'd share a bit more detail here.

For anyone doing the math at home, that's going from rougly 1.5TB to 500GB (the new file size is slightly inflated, since this slave managed to replicate about a week's worth of data before I caught it). I was hoping for 4:1 compression and managed about 3:1.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:34 AM

May 18, 2009

Our CEO Tells It Like It Is

I haven't said a lot about the ongoing battle between Craigslist and certain overly-aggressive politicians, but after reading his most recent blog post, An Apology Is In Order, I have to say that I'm really proud of Jim. Having a CEO standing up to politicians and media for what he believes is right and true really reaffirms my decision to join Craigslist last year. Better yet, he's outdone most of the media by, *gasp*, actually linking to relevant information in his post.

Many prominent companies, including AT&T, Microsoft, and Village Voice Media, not to mention major newspapers and other upstanding South Carolina businesses feature more “adult services” ads than does craigslist, some of a very graphic nature. For a small sampling, look (careful NSFW) here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here.
Have you fully considered the implications of your accusations against craigslist? What’s a crime for craigslist is clearly a crime for any company. Are you really prepared to condemn the executives of each of the mainstream companies linked above, and all the others that feature such ads, as criminals? craigslist may not matter in your world view, despite our popularity among your constituents, but mightn’t you want an endorsement from any of the SC newspapers for your gubenatorial campaign, whose publishers you’ve just labeled as criminals? Do you really intend to launch a criminal investigation against the phone company? What about potential new jobs connected to big data center buildouts in SC by Internet companies? Are you *sure* you want prosecute all of their CEOs as criminals???

Keep it up, Jim.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:28 AM

May 15, 2009

Smoked Tilapia with Honey Glaze

Tonight we tried smoking Tailpia for the first time and it came out very well. The full recipe is below the before and after pictures.

The fish in the smoker, before adding honey and spices:

Smoked Tilapia

The fish after smoking:

Smoked Tilapia


Smoked Tilapia


This recipe is very simple but surprisingly tasty. It has some sweet, some smoky, and some spice.

Arrange the fish on the smoker grate and coat liberally with honey.

Then sprinkle on a bit of each of the following:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper

Then smoke for 18-20 minutes with hickory chips.

The resulting mix of honey, cayenne, and smoky flavor is truly excellent.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:53 AM

May 14, 2009

MySQL 5.1.34 and XtraDB 1.0.3-5

For a couple weeks now, we've had a MySQL server at work running MySQL 5.1.34 and the Percona XtraDB 1.0.3-5 plug-in. I'm testing an upgrade path for our current MySQL 5.0.xx based servers.

Aside from some confusion about the initial setup (getting the built-in InnoDB to stay out of the way), things have gone very well. All of our largest and most active tables have been converted to the new Barracuda file format and I tested compression on the two largest. The first didn't fare so well, but it's a fairly over-indexed table with small rows. The second, however, contains a decent sized TEXT column (classified posting bodies) and it compresses quite nicely. Any change in CPU utilization is not significant.

I hope to soon get a second server running and try to increase the compression ratio, going from KEY_BLOCK_SIZE of 8K to 4K to see if we can squeeze some more out of it without much penalty.

I love all the extra stats provided by the InnoDB plug-in and the Percona (and Google) enhancements. There are a lot of knobs that I've not yet tried to turn, but it's good to know they're available when that day comes.

More to come...

See Also: Is MySQL 5.1 a compelling upgrade?

Posted by jzawodn at 08:17 AM

May 02, 2009

I love my Samsung NC10 Netbook

A couple months back I got a Samsung NC10 Netbook. I had been on the fence for a long time, trying to decide among the an Eee PC from Asus, the MSI Wind, and the Samsung NC10. Right about the time I was going to finally do it, the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE was announced. I read a lot of reviews from folks who'd bought those netbooks and eventually settled on the NC10.

The main deciding factors, in order, were: keyboard layout, build quality, ease of upgrade (mine has 2GB RAM and a 320GB disk, twice the standard in both departments), and Linux support.

The MSI Wind was okay in most of those areas, but based on the many reviews I read, the NC10 was a little bit better across the board. So I ruled the MSI Wind out on that alone.

The Eee PC 1000HE had just been announced and would have required waiting a few more weeks. Plus, its keyboard had a few quirks--notably the right shift key being too small and offset. Keyboards are really important to me. It had the advantage of a claimed 9.5 hour battery life vs. the 7-8 claimed on the NC10.

However, I picked the NC10 and couldn't be happier. Running Windows XP, I routinely get 7 hours of battery life with Wifi on and the screen brightness set low (don't need it any higher most of the time). The wireless range is excellent, keyboard feels right, and it's surprisingly snappy.

Building a computer this small and light is really an exercise in design compromises and I thing Samsung nailed it perfectly. I've traveled with it a few times and used it all day at the MySQL Conference without having to worry about being near power outlets.

The 2GB RAM is more than enough for anything I'm likely to throw at the Atom processor and 320GB is enough space for all my music, pictures, and pretty much everything except my extensive video collection.

I use the NC10 a bit day to day. I think of it as a "couch computer" in addition to use in travel and at a conference. But I've also hooked it up to a HDTV to show off pictures to family and that worked just as well. I could easily see doing a day's worth of work on it with an external monitor and mouse.

A couple weeks ago, I grabbed the latest Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) and booted the NC10 off a USB stick to see how it worked. Much to my surprise, it seems that everything worked well without any tweaking. I'll probably stick with XP for now, but it's good to see that Ubuntu would work for me too.

If I was looking to buy now, I'd look really hard at the Samsung NC10, ASUS Eee PC 1000HE, and the Samsung NC20 (the 12" model).

Posted by jzawodn at 09:26 AM