Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Sakila the MySQL Dolphin at CommunityOne and JavaOne

Yes, I know. JavaOne is about Duke, the friendly mascot of Java technology. Created and maintained by James Gosling and all.

But MySQL also introduces Sakila to the JavaOne attendees. Sakila is also friendly, and the mascot of MySQL technology. The dolphin was chosen by MySQL founders Michael "Monty" Widenius and David Axmark, as was its name Sakila (which came from a naming contest in the early days).

Together with Giuseppe (in the picture above) and the rest of the MySQL Community Team, I will be handing out incarnations of Sakila (also seen above in the pic) at CommunityOne and JavaOne as follows:

  • Monday 5 May 2008 09:30-10:45: CommunityOne General Session: Ian Murdock, Sun Microsystems; Panel: Matt Asay, Alfresco CNET, MÃ¥rten Mickos, MySQL, Jim Zemlin, Linux Foundation, Ted Leung, Python, Stormy Peters, OpenLogic; Rich Green, Sun Microsystems

  • Monday 5 May 2008 12:25-13:20, Moscone South - Esplanade 307: S297794 Creative Programming with the MySQL Management System, Giuseppe Maxia, MySQL

  • Monday 5 May 2008 13:30-14:25, Moscone South - Esplanade 307:
    S297257 Scaling MySQL, Scott Feldstein, Hyperic

  • Monday 5 May 2008 16:00-16:55, Moscone South - Esplanade 307: S297136 Streamlined Web Applications with MySQL Cluster and mod_ndb, John David Duncan, MySQL

  • Tuesday 6 May 2008 15:20-16:20: TS-7813 The MySQL JDBC API Driver, And Making It Do What You Want, Mark Matthews, Darren Oldag, MySQL

  • Tuesday 6 May 2008 16:40-17:40: TS-7814 MySQL Cluster and Java Technology (and Python, and Ruby, And...), Monty Taylor, MySQL

  • Tuesday 6 May 2008 19:30-20:20: BOF-5039 JDBC 4.1 Specification Overview, Lance Andersen, Sun Microsystems, Inc.; Mark Matthews, MySQL

Ah, and rumour has it that Jonathan may pop in during Giuseppe's presentation!

Come, ask a smart question, interact, and get a Sakila!

Monday, 28 April 2008

Nüshìmen, xianshéngmen: A speech in Chinese on video

"Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon and welcome to this presentation regarding the acquisition of the company MySQL AB by Sun Microsystems."

Since my speech on Sun / MySQL integration for about 400 people in Beijing last week, I have been asked a few times about what it's like to give a speech in Chinese. Well, I wouldn't really know, as all I did was read aloud a text for 8 minutes. I remembered what passage was about what topic, and I had noted which words to stress, when to raise my hand etc. But of the actual words, I understood perhaps 5-10 % (based on them being repeated often enough). So I know I am a fuzongcai (Vice President) with Sun Microsystems, I know the difference between a kèhù (customer) and a yònghù (user). I live in Munihei (München), but I am not deguoren (German), I am fenlanren (from Finland). And, nüshìmen, xianshéngmen, that's Ladies and gentlemen.

So far, hen hao.

I read aloud from this paper (no, not the Chinese characters, just the pinyin).

But the ambition level could really be a bit higher. Not stressing every syllable. Speaking a bit faster. Repeating the tones once (ok, five times) more. And I could memorise more words, not 5-10 % but perhaps 25%. That would be more enjoyable for both the audience, and for myself.

That said, giving a speech in Mandarin was a very positive experience, even at my level of delivery. My ambition was for at least 70% of my message being understandable from a pronunciation standpoint, and I heard estimates of the outcome being 80% to 90%. And I got interrupted by applause at least five times, and laughter at least once (even at the intended spot). So I'm happy. And I recommend using Chinese for more than the mere greetings, for any non-Chinese wishing to be well received in China.

Xìexìe, thank you, xìexìe.


Friday, 25 April 2008

Light Painting by Julian Cash @ UC: The Outcome

Earlier, I noted that Julian Cash was to do some "light painting" at the MySQL Users Conference. And boy, did he do it!

He had a normal conference room, the Bayshore at the MySQL Conference, made a bit darker. Not pitch dark, but let's say too dark to read. Then, he had us sit down on a chair in front of a neutral background, and took the pics with his camera mounted on a tripod. A picture took perhaps 30 to 60 seconds. After opening the shutter, the object was supposed to sit still. Julian then lit up our faces, in my case with blue and red light sources ("mini-torches") which he moved top-down. Then, he sprinkled in some additional stray light in various colours.

I had asked for a picture of an angel (with halo, above -- perhaps to be used at my own funeral?) and a devil (with red horns, below -- perhaps as an alternate funeral picture, depending on my then-current CV?). Being the guinea pig for the setup, Julian spent over a quarter of an hour on the pics.

It was great fun, and I remain a great admirer of Julian's.

Ah, and just to be clear: Note that the pictures are not digitally edited. They're originals. I.e., the tricks work also with granddaddy's analog cameras. However, seeing the pics on the camera display does help; in my case, the final pics were the fifth and sixths tries. So if you experiment yourself (and at least I will), do go with a normal, modern camera, mount it on a tripod, and use some creative sources of light.

If you click on the thumbnails below, you'll see a number of other pics taken by Julian in that session.


Barton George Podcasts from MySQL Conference

Who's Barton George?

Barton is a colleague from Sun, who "looks after Sun's relationships with the various GNU/Linux communities as well as our relationship with the FSF" according to his blog. I spent time with him at the MySQL Users Conference last week. He is a fun guy to be around, and isn't as US-centric as his remark "Last year, my family and I emigrated from Silicon Valley to Austin, TX." would lead one to believe.

Barton is also an avid blogger. And, on top, a diligent podcaster.

As for blogging, he has recent MySQL relevant entries on partying (with MÃ¥rten of MySQL, and with Jonathan & Rich of Sun at the Pre-Conf Community Dinner), and with pics from the UC.

As for podcasts, he has already posted four entries from the MySQL UC, i.e. interviews with MÃ¥rten Mickos, with Zack Urlocker, with Baron Schwartz of Maatkit & Community Award fame, and with Jennifer Venable of Red Hat.

The podcasts are about 10 minutes each. To help you decide whether you want to spend those 10 mins or not, his blog entries provide tips on the contents, such as this one about the Zack blog:

  • Exceeding expectations at the MySQL conference

  • The availability of MySQL's 5.1 later this quarter and all the cool new features

  • The GA of Workbench - a modeling tool for DBAs

  • The morning's keynotes (here is the video Zack shot)

  • The challenges that Werner Vogels, Amazon's CTO, faces

  • Sun's performance tuning team and how it helps MySQL shine

  • Zack's impressions of his first six weeks at Sun

Barton tells me there will be more podcasts posted soon, with Brian Aker of MySQL (now live!), and with Erica Brescia, CEO of BitRock (now also live!).


Thursday, 24 April 2008

Beijing Meetup Mashup: MySQL - Sun in China

We had over 400 participants in yesterday's MySQL-Sun event in China! Plus another 30 or so in the press event, happening in parallel.

Beijing, if nobody noticed, is preparing for the Olympics. Here's the so called Birds Nest, that we passed several times on the way to various meetings -- including yesterday's event.

After initial linguistic difficulties, Larry Stefonic (MySQL VP APAC) found our way to the event.

This was the first MySQL-Sun event with a banner across a street!

Everything takes place in Chinese here. About as much as it's Japanese in Japan. In Europe, we seem to give way too much way for English.

And to accommodate to the local situation, I gave my presentation (on MySQL-Sun integration) in Chinese. It was about 8 minutes, and I was happy to be several times interrupted for applause. And I didn't say anything particularly smart -- just read aloud my normal presentation, albeit in Chinese. Judging by the warm reception, that's not an everyday gesture by Westerners in Beijing.

Now, after nearly three weeks on the road, I'm finally going back home. Hence the popular Chinese gesture: the Thumbs Up sign.

Thanks to everyone who arranged the event -- especially, Scott Chen at Sun in Beijing, and Yoko Suga-san with the MySQL APAC team!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Fourteen Summer of Code projects accepted 2008

This year, we got fourteen Google Summer of Code projects accepted. Colin Charles has informed the students, and things can now get started!

The first step is what's called the Community Bonding Period. That's happening right now, and also being facilitated by Colin. Colin has written a summary of the Community Bonding period on the Forge Wiki, and there's also a general description by Google.

We expect great things from the students. We want them to produce code that our userbase can use as features in MySQL.

Given our high expectations for what the students produce, we don't expect all fourteen projects to succeed. And we do want our students to be an integral part of the MySQL community even after they're done with the Summer of Code 2008.

I'd also like to add that we're grateful for the mentoring participation from the MySQL community, where PBXT and phpMyAdmin are worthy of mentioning.

Looking forward to the code produced, and to Colin's upcoming blogs on SoC progress reports!


Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Light Painting for UC attendees -- Wed 10am-2pm Bayshore Room

First of all, thank you, Jay Pipes, for setting up the Bayshore Room tomorrow between 10am and 2pm, for Julian Cash to take pictures of us!

Second, I am a big fan of descriptive subject headers. So I thought I could promote this memorable event even more explicitly than what Jay did in his posting "Yes, It's That Time of the Year Again...".

It's Julian's fault that I bought my 8mm Sigma lens. He has one, and takes weird pictures with it. As opposed to mine, his are good (yup, he uses fancy high-tech equipment like flashes, and white background paper -- one day I'll go there, too).

This is MySQL's very own Brian Aker, as distorted by Julian.

The new thing Julian is doing is Light Painting. This means he creates pictures that look like they've been PhotoShopped through some strange filter, but they haven't.

Let me quote Julian:
Light Painting

Light painting portraits are distinctive, innovative, and magical. The photos have a dreamlike futuristic feel and lend themselves to editorial work, advertising, book covers, and portraits of musicians.
I do not digitally manipulate the images. All of the effects are created simply by painting the subject and the surrounding area with colored light in a dark room while the camera shutter is open. This makes for images that feel especially organic and believable despite their surreal nature.

My subjects and I have a great time creating light portraits together. The style of the images is both unique and varied. My proficiency comes from 15 years of experience and experimentation with this type of photography. It also helps that I am an illustrator and painter as well as a portrait photographer. The process is fun and is a natural combination of painting and photography.

If there is a concept or emotion that you want expressed in the image, I especially enjoy using that as part of the creative process. I'm happy to work with an art director, or I can take the initiative to come up with a powerful and satisfying image.

So if you're at the UC, do stop by at Julian's event and have your picture taken!


8mm observations from this mornings MySQL UC Keynotes

Allow me to provide some relaxed photographic observations from this morning's MySQL UC keynotes.

Warning 1: My view is distorted, by my favourite lens, Sigma 8mm.

Warning 2: I took the pics with a shaky hand in low light, so they're not sharp ones, of the James Duncan Davidson type (the guy who takes all the great pics for O'Reilly).

On Johnny Good's command, doors open, and the audience starts pouring in.

Zack Urlocker has challenged me in the James Callis Lookalike Contest (of Battlestar Galactica fame), but is himself clearly in the lead.

Journalist James Niccolai of IDG, taking a picture of Rich Green and MÃ¥rten Mickos (Note: I am a fan of recursion; it would have been even better if Zack had taken a picture of me taking a picture of James, Rich and MÃ¥rten).

MÃ¥rten Mickos talking to Sheeri Kritzer Cabral.

Jay Pipes's head is moving so fast talking to Gina Blaber of O'Reilly, that it gets blurred.

James Duncan Davidson, one of my two favourite contemporary American photographers. The other one is Julian Cash, whose fault it is that I now have a Sigma 8mm lens. He takes weird pictures with his fisheye lens (way weirder -- and, above all, better -- than mine), and now he has turned his interest into something he calls light painting. Speaking of Julian: He is here. Do come to the Bayshore Room (on the Mezzanine level of the hotel) tomorrow between 10am and 2pm, and have your weird picture taken!

Me showing my favourite gadget (remember? the 8mm fisheye lens) to Jonathan Schwartz; Rich Green and Mike Zinner look suspicious.

Everyone has found their way in and we're ready to go!

MÃ¥rten complains he got only 35 minutes, of which Jay had already burned 5 when MÃ¥rten got on stage.

Sheeri Kritzer Cabral's video camera recording MÃ¥rten.

MÃ¥rten asked everyone in the audience who had reported bugs to stand up.

Mike Zinner wearing a MySQL Workbench t-shirt doing his great demoes, with an amount of superlatives that is more American than Austrian (prompting MÃ¥rten to mention that Mike could have an alternate career in Hollywood; perhaps, later, Mike could run for governor somewhere).

Ah, did you note that MySQL Workbench went GA and is ready for download today? At least Mike Hillyer did. And of course Patrik Backman did, but it would be strange if he didn't, as he is Mike Zinner's boss.

MÃ¥rten Mickos and his SunVisor Rich Green (Note 1: Rich Green doesn't want MÃ¥rten to call him "boss". Note 2: A "SunVisor" is a helpful person working for Sun Microsystems that adopts an employee of an acquired company to guide him through the first rough times with a new employer).

James Duncan Davidson taking pictures of award winners.

The Community Award Winners between Rich Green and MÃ¥rten Mickos: Diego Medina, Baron Schwartz, Sheeri Kritzer Cabral.

How bright (not)! I didn't take any well-lit pictures of Jonathan. Perhaps because his captivating presentation kept me focusing on the content? But I did take this picture of the stage when Jonathan explained the world map in blue and green dots. The light blue dots depicted places downloading MySQL. And if you look really carefully in the top-left corner of this picture, you'll see green dots. That's the US East Coast, and Europe, which are eager at downloading the GlassFish application server for Java EE.

Today's keynotes were concluded by Werner Vogels, Amazon CTO, on "The Power of Infrastructure as a Service".

Sheeri blogging and vlogging

There's a reason for Sheeri winning the Community Advocate of the Year award. Her activity level is hard to beat.

If you want a chance to beat Sheeri for 2009, you need to master multitasking. Not only is Sheeri listening to MÃ¥rten presenting his keynote. She's preparing for some vlogging, i.e. recording MÃ¥rten's presentation. And she's blogging at the same time. And (although she doesn't know it until three seconds after the picture was taken) she's getting ready for getting up on stage to receive her 2008 award.

Ah, myself I'm only listening, and taking the odd picture. (Some of them very odd).

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

MySQL Community Awards 2008

Every year, there's a task that is both difficult and pleasant at the same time: Picking three outstanding contributors from the MySQL Community. MÃ¥rten Mickos, MySQL's former-CEO and Sun's now-SVP of the Database Group, has just presented the results by handing out the 2008 MySQL Community Awards.

Rich Green, Diego Medina, Baron "xaprb" Schwartz, Sheeri Kritzer Cabral, MÃ¥rten Mickos at the award ceremony

This time, our choice fell upon these three community members, whose contributions we very much appreciate:

Code Contributor of the Year: Baron "Xaprb" Schwartz, for the Maatkit toolkit
From the creation of the most popular MySQL toolkit, Maatkit, to his outstanding and comprehensive blogging, we would like to recognize Baron Schwartz for his extraordinary contributions to the greater MySQL community.

Quality Contributor of the Year: Diego Medina
The next award winner has distinguished himself this past year in being the most prolific forum poster, answering questions in multiple categories with great zeal, and for logging countless reproduceable bug reports. For his efforts, we recognize Diego Medina for his outstanding contributions to the MySQL community.

Community Advocate, Communicator and Facilitator of the Year: Sheeri Kritzer Cabral
As the only community member to receive an award two years in a row, this next award winner has once again distinguished herself from her peers in working to promote MySQL, to organize meetups and local events, for blogging about MySQL issues and concerns, and for being an advocate in the truest sense of the word. We recognize Sheeri Kritzer Cabral for her tireless community efforts.

Thank you, Baron, Diego and Sheeri!

Reference web sites:

Databases for Free -- MySQL 5.1 and 6.0

As followers of Free / Open Source Software know, there are several ways of being free.

As for free as in speech, look for Wednesday's keynote at the MySQL Users Conference here in Santa Clara on the US West Coast. It's by Rick Falkvinge, party leader of the Swedish Pirate Party. Or download MySQL Community Server, it's free as in speech.

As for free as in beer, sure, again, just download MySQL Community Server, install it, and use it. Old news.

But what if you're lazy enough not to want to download and install MySQL Server? What if you just want to use an instance of MySQL Serer, installed and provided by someone else, with a simple command like

mysql -h -P 3307 -u [username] -p[password] ?

Well, in that case, register for a free MySQL 5.1 plus a free MySQL 6.0 at

Like it says on DB4Free's first page:
The db4free project provides a platform for database users and developers from all over the world to exchange experiences, give hints to each other or to discuss. This offer also gives you the chance to learn to deal with databases without having to rent a server for money.

You just create an account, perhaps browse the blog, and off you go.

You can run MySQL 5.1 (now in RC) and MySQL 6.0 (still in Alpha; includes Falcon).

Thanks for the beer, Markus Popp!

Anthropology: Sun studies MySQL

"We didn't acquire MySQL to change it, but to learn from it", or something to that effect, was a line used by Jonathan Schwartz very early on in the Sun acquisition of MySQL. And this seems to be taken seriously. So Sun has appointed teams studying MySQL: our culture, and our way of working from home (70 % of us don't even have a desk at an office, i.e. permanently work from home, such as me).

I hope to soon share some of the results from the Culture studies. Today, co-founder Michael "Monty" Widenius and I were the interview subjects of the "Virtual Work at MySQL" study group under Edel Keville.

We had lots of things to point out, but most things had already been said by the other interview subjects. The two key things that were missing were related to meeting practices: How does MySQL organise virtual meetings? How do we arrange physical meetings?

The first one of those would be worth a blog entry in its own right, but the second one already has one. Called "How to arrange a physical meeting in a virtual organisation", a blog entry from January 2007 describes a meeting in Berlin in December 2006, which was a bit of a testbed for the large-size Heidelberg Developer Mtg in September 2007.

I stay by my philosophy of being descriptive of how MySQL works (and has worked), as opposed to being prescriptive about how Sun should work. That said, I think the meeting practices documented after the Berlin meeting are probably worthy of a read for several virtual organisations which meet physically from time to time (if it's politically correct to recommend one's own blog entries).

Monday, 14 April 2008

Jonathan Schwartz and Rich Green at the MySQL Community Pre-Conference Dinner party

The very first UC related parties are over, and the Users Conference hasn't even started!

The first one was MÃ¥rten's traditional and well-liked MySQL staff party in his garden. The coolest and most community significant one was the MySQL Community Pre-Conference Dinner party, though, as advertised on MySQL Forge Wiki. So we dropped out of MÃ¥rten's party at six, to meet with the community.

There were 48 registered people, and I think even more turned up. And some of the guys who turned up unregistered were from Sun.

Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz crashes the party and is surrounded by community members and MySQLers alike

Rich Green, Executive VP of Software at Sun, also surrounded by Community Dinner attendees

Given that we've got record number of attendees at the UC, I think I will have to speed up my discussions, as I got to talk properly only with Florian Haas and Philipp Reisner of Linbit / DRBD, with Kai 'Oswald' Seidler of XAMPP, with Marc Delisle of phpMyAdmin, with Volker Oboda of Primebase, other than the MySQLers, ex-MySQLers and Sun employees. Note to self: Blame the jet lag, as this is my second Sunday 13 April 2008 (having got up in Tokyo at 7, and left Tokyo at 16, and arrived in San Francisco at 9 i.e. 7 hours before leaving).

And it seems I also blew my opportunity of flying Decadence Airlines again anytime soon. I was going to handle the payment using Rich Green's credit card (Rich had to leave a bit earlier), but the restaurant gave him back the credit card and left me with merely signing a receipt. This isn't going to buy me any aircraft fuel on Netjets.

Footnote 1: Yes, I was teased all evening for the four days we flew "Sun's Corporate Jet", i.e. a rental airplane by Netjets from Dublin via Stockholm, Moscow, Izhevsk, Moscow again, and Kiev to Hamburg in March. But it was good, so I suppose I deserve some teasing.

Footnote 2: I googled for "Decadence Airlines", and funnily enough, one of the links goes directly to I think I will have to plead guilty to that one.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Senna & Tritonn: Fast full text search in Japanese

Friday afternoon, I met with Tetsuro Ikeda-san and Teruyoshi Hazama-san of MySQL's long-time key partner in Japan, Sumisho. Ikeda-san and Hazama-san taught me about their work on full text search in Japanese.

Senna is an engine for fast full text search in Japanese. The Senna project derives its name from Formula I driver Ayrton Senna. "But he's dead", I protested. "Sure, but he is a legend and will always be associated with speed." I cannot protest there -- and the numbers I saw for Senna's full-text search defend the choice of name.

Tritonn is the combination of Senna into MySQL. The Tritonn name refers to two things: Triton Square in Tokyo, where Sumisho has its offices, and to the fact that MySQL through our dolphin logotype is associated with the sea. Tritonn is spelt with two n's in order to simplify web search, so as not to be confused with the Greek god Triton (the messenger of the deep, son of Poseidon, god of the sea) and the many other things named after him.

I recommended Hazama-san to meet at the MySQL Users Conference with key guys in MySQL Engineering: Sergei Golubchik who wrote MySQL's Full-Text Search feature, Peter Gulutzan who knows all there is to be known about standards and character sets, and Alexander Barkov who implements all there is to be implemented about character sets.

Good luck to Senna and Tritonn!


Meeting Sun KK in Japan on Community -- however it's defined

My Japan trip was full of meetings, as trips to Japan usually are. One of the most interesting ones was at Sun Microsystems K.K.'s site, with a number of people engaged in building Japanese communities for Sun.

MySQL Meeting at Sun
Takashi Shitamichi, Yoko Suga, Natsuki Wakabayashi, Jim Grisanzio,
Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Satoshi Kawai, myself, Toshiro Umetsu, Takanobu Masuzuki

From Jim Grisanzio and others, I learned that Japan is Sun's most active blogging country outside the US, on And I got reminded of the messages heard many times at numerous Sun meetings: That Sun has Community experts both in Marketing and Engineering. On the contrary, MySQL's Community Team is a separate entity, outside of both Marketing and Engineering, but serving them both.

And that's an area where MySQL and Sun has a lot to discuss about, in order to understand if there is something to learn from the other party, and how the learnings can be applied and implemented in practise.

There is at least one area where MySQL can learn and contemplate how to implement Sun's practices: Developer Marketing. We have never used those two words in combination at MySQL, which at times also means that a certain group of MySQL users fall between the cracks -- those who contribute to the MySQL community but work for commercial customers. The Community Team socialises with them at Dev Mtgs (such as in Heidelberg last year) and at the Users Conference, and so do the Sales Engineers, Support Engineers and everyone else working for MySQL. Yet, spending time isn't the same as concerted efforts.

Conversely, the concept of "user" seems to be different at MySQL and Sun. At MySQL, "user" is often used to mean "non-paying customer". And these users form the core of the charter of the Community Team. We want to smoothen the way for our users, we want them to use MySQL, to expand their usage of and benefit from MySQL, and to share their positive experiences with the rest of the world. And while working on this, the MySQL Community Team strictly does not have an agenda of convincing the users to pay for something, ASAP. Sure, we want our pay check, and sure, we want MySQL (now Sun) to prosper financially. But our main goal is to fill the invisible pipeline of users who may take months or years at the user stage, before even considering to become paying customers.

Some of this forces top management to have quite a strong belief in the good that a community can have for a company. I'm thinking about metrics. It's not as if there would be ideal metrics for community building. Or rather, there are ideal metrics, such as the number of project wins, i.e. cases where MySQL is being adopted in new projects. That would be highly relevant to know, segmented by various types of organisations. But we don't have access to those numbers. Forcing people to register won't work, and voluntary registration gives only a fraction of the new projects as well as a fraction of the relevant data.

My personal conclusion is that I'd rather have a high adoption rate, than know exactly which low adoption rate I have.

And another personal conclusion is that I'd generally rather spend time increasing adoption further, than increasing my level of knowledge of that adoption. That conclusion is less easy to defend, though, as some level of knowledge about adoption rates is essential.

What's again easier to defend is that exact knowledge about an irrelevant aspect of the adoption rate may fool one to believe that said aspect is relevant. How significant is download rates? Web page hits? Email list traffic? Number of blog postings? Forum entries? And how much of that is directly driven by the efforts of the Community Team, rather than events outside the control of that team (such as new releases, security holes, acquisitions by Sun)?

Looking forward to various discussions on this topic with Ian Murdock and many other colleagues!


Snusmumriken, Duke and Toru-san

Japan is a wonderful place for someone like me.

Not only do I get to have sushi to my heart's content. I am also exposed to the wonders of the Japanese culture, and -- the topic of this blog posting -- Japanese cultural imports from the West.

While preparing for the Sun-MySQL event last Wednesday, I was happy to see the back of Toru Takahashi-san's laptop, featuring a big sticker with Snusmumriken and a small sticker with Duke.

  • Toru-san is a Principal Solution Architect with the Software Practice in Sun Microsystems K.K. He was involved in the planning and execution of the Tokyo event in our Sun-MySQL World Tour. You can also meet him at the MySQL Users Conference next week, if you're there.

  • Duke is the friendly mascot of Java technology.

  • Snusmumriken, or Snufkin in English (sorry, I wouldn't know what he is called in Japanese), is a Finland Swedish cultural export. He is one of the Moomin cartoons (Moomintroll's best friend, who goes south every winter and returns in the spring), and I did know from earlier travels to Japan that the Moomins are about as popular in Japan as Victoria and David Beckham (exposure in random unrelated ads in the metro or on the streets). Ah, the humble cultural imperialist in me was happy to note that it's not only IT (Linux, MySQL) which is spreading from our tiny group of 300.000 people in Finland, but also my favourite children's stories, written by Tove Jansson (1914-2001).

My Finland Swedish ego trip got a further highlight later in the evening, when I noticed that the scissors I borrowed at Larry Stefonic's place (MySQL's VP Sales in APAC) were made by Fiskars (in the consumer goods industry).

Big in Japan

I'm big in Japan.

I'm small in the US.

In Europe, I am size M.

Me trying out replacement clothes in Tokyo

On my trip to Japan, I thought I was smart by saving money through combining tickets in my fairly complicated trip Munich - Tokyo - Santa Clara - Beijing - Munich. So I booked MUC-PEK-MUC, PEK-NRT-PEK and NRT-SFO-NRT. That meant a stopover in Beijing on my way to Tokyo.

And that, in turn, meant lost luggage.

There was plenty of time to think about whether I would lose my newly-bought suit and my favourite lense (8mm Sigma fisheye) forever, but 59 hours later than myself, the bag finally turned up on the Stefonic residence doorstep in Minato-ku, Tokyo.

In the meantime, I had to buy some emergency clothes and time to make the above observation on clothing sizes: I'm usually M or L in Europe, I'm often S in the US, but in Japan, I had to go for X to XL.

Tokyo 9 April 2008: Press event, World Tour, Meetup Mashup

This week's Wednesday was a big thing for MySQL and Sun in Japan:

  • Over 300 attendees to our World Tour event in Tokyo

  • Over 30 press attendees to the press conference in the morning

  • Availability of nine-to-five MySQL Technical Support in Japanese announced

  • Availability of MySQL Enterprise Monitor in Japanese announced

  • Availability of MySQL Knowledge Base articles in Japanese announced

I had the opportunity to keynote 60 minutes on the MySQL Architecture of Participation, with the first 5 minutes in Japanese.
Minasama, Konnichiwa.
Konotabi wa, Sun Microsystems toh MySQL AB no Tougou ni tsuite, *Kigaru* ni *Oiwai* shi, *Hanashiau* tameno, Launch Event he, Youkoso Okoshi Kudasaimashita.

[the following four minutes deleted]

Against all hearsay advice for gai-jins, saying that foreigners should not attempt at joking in front of a Japanese audience, I also inserted a small attempt at making the audience laugh towards the end of my presentation:
Minasama wa, Mou, Owakari kato Omoimasuga, Watashi wa Nihongo wo *Hanashi masen*. Desukara, Minasama kara Question wo Oukesuru toki wa, honyaku shi, Eigo de, Kaitou sasete itadakitaito Omoimasu.

For those of you who are in the same unfortunate position as me, not to understand the quote, what I said was
As I'm sure you've noticed by now, I *don't* speak Japanese, which means that I'll rely on translations for understanding your questions, and I will reply in English.

My "limitations" in Japanese were sorely apparent by the time I mentioned that, and surely enough, there were a couple of Japanese chuckles in the audience.

The Q&A then started with an intensity of questions that I am used to from my native Finland, in other words, complete silence. After the first brave Samurai opening up the q&a session, the questions started flowing and were of the same type as elsewhere: What are our plans for storage engines? What does the Sun integration mean? Will Sun change us? Will we stay open source? (Yes, we will).

Thanks to Yoko Suga-san, and everyone at MySQL KK and Sun KK who made this great event such a success!

References from MySQL:

References from Japanese press:

Milan, Italy -- next stop on Sun-MySQL Meetup Mashup, 3 April 2008

Right after Paris, Giuseppe and I turned our attention to Milan, Italy. The flight from Paris Roissy to Milan Malpensa (EasyJet, 57 euros/PAX) turned out to be clearly cheaper than the taxi ride from Malpensa to Sun's Milan office, where we had the meetup.

In time before the meeting, we had some HR, integration and general planning discussions with Sun. One of the most difficult aspects turned out to be to pick the right form of coffee, as the number of alternatives in the coffee machine exceeded anything observed before.

Luckily, I'm a tea drinker, where the challenge limited itself to finding out how to change the default of adding sugar to drinking the tea straight.

The event saw over 100 participants. It was very competently arranged by Emanuela Giannetta, hosted and supported by Franco Roman and many other Italian Sun people -- including Stefano De Toni who presented the GlassFish Application Server and NetBeans platform/IDE projects.

My Italian Meetup-Mashup keynote also marked a first in what I plan to be a regular thing: That I present the key messages, i.e. the first 4-5 minutes, in the local language, even if I don't speak the language but just pretend to do so. Giuseppe kindly translated my Paris presentation from French to Italian, and we then walked through the difficult passages to pronounce:
Signore e signori, benvenuti a questo incontro informale per celebrare e discUtere l'acquisizione di MySQL da parte di Sun Microsystems.

Mi chiamo Kaj Arnö, e sono il Vice Presidente per la Comunità di MySQL. Vengo da Monaco, ma non sono bavarese. Sono Finlandese come Monty, il creatore di MySQL e molti altri colleghi. Durante l'integrazione con Sun, ho anche il ruolo di Ambasciatore di MySQL, cioè vIsito tutti gli uffici Sun e spiego cos'è MySQL.

[the remaining 90% deleted for your benefit]

You might nOtice some non-standard capitalisAtion of a few words, denoting where to put the stress. How else would a stupid foreigner like me know it's discUtere and not discutEre?

I didn't get thrown at with raw eggs and tomatoes (perhaps the audience was just unprepared) so until further notice, I will continue the practice of presenting the beginning of my keynotes in the local language.


Sun-MySQL Meetup Mashup in Paris 2 April 2008

Last week's Wednesday (seems like ages ago, and I haven't got any blogging time since), the Sun MySQL Meetup-Mashup World Tour got to Paris.

The Meetup-Mashup gets a local flavour wherever we are. And the local flavour in Paris was an Irish Pub, where we had an intimate meeting with a good 160 of the closest friends of MySQL.

We had some bière gratuite (free beer) to celebrate the logiciels libres (free software), as well as a presentation by Giuseppe, after a brief introduction by myself and followed by an overview by Sun.

I had good encounters with old friends and made some new ones. Damien Seguy from belong to the oldest, and our discussions ranged from the well-being of the French PHP community to stuffed animals, particularly those depictingo species relevant to FOSS (elephants, penguins, and, let's not forget, dolphins).

The PHP contingency was probably the biggest developer audience in the group, but Ruby on Rails and Java were also ably represented.

From a community perspective, the most interesting discussions I had with three gentlemen from Adrien Artero in charge of the Business Intelligence column (, Nicolas Joseph and Antoine Dinémant. They asked us to help them by identifying the best articles related to MySQL on our website, so that their volunteers can translate them to French and publish them on their developer site. Talk about well-aligned interests! We're happy to oblige, as we very much welcome spreading the word on MySQL in the languages relevant to the developers -- in the case of France, French.

Some notes on, the French language community that concentrates the largest number of professional IT specialists:

  • Provides for free all kinds of useful services for IT specialists: newsletter, magazine, topicality events, tutorials, articles, FAQs, tests, benchmarks, debates, surveys, tools, sources, components and examples of code, blogs, and free site hosting for IT specialists.

  • Up to 130.000 visits per day

  • More than 1.400.000 distinct readers attend at least once a month.

  • With more than 5000 messages per day, it is also the most active forum of mutual support in its field.

  • The largest voluntary editorial team: more than 500 authors.

A great thanks to Mick Carney, our senior Sales guy in France, to Giuseppe Maxia, who organised the event from a community perspective, and, most of all, our long-time French PR agent Véronique Loquet of AL'X Communication, who did an amazing job in planning and coordinating this event.

Looking forward to the next French event, an enterprise event directed at Sun & MySQL customers, happening in June.