Today I've come across a new definition of insanity. It is this;

Expecting an update of every row in a 13 million row table (which is subject to frequent updates) to complete in one pass without timing out.

Of course, this wouldn't be necessary if the system in question was running a version of PostgreSQL that was released after 2003. Damn those risk averse system administrators.

I should probably explain. In versions of PostgreSQL before release 8 you cannot increase the size of a column. Therefore to increase the size of one of the columns in our production database we have to add a new column, copy the contents of the old column to the new column, rename both columns and then drop the old column. Now that is what I call a database refactoring.

Living in a third world country

The government of Australia today introduced a bill into the parliament giving the commissioner of the Australian Federal Police the power to censor the internet.

Did I miss a memo, is it 1984 or something? This sort of thing should not be allowed in what is supposed to be a civilised country. I shall be writing to my MP for all of the good that will do.

Details of the bill are here. The press release from the Australian Privacy Foundation explaining why this is a monumentally bad idea can be found here.

Update: I should mention that this has all the hallmarks of a slimy underhand trick by the government. Parliament is likely to be in its last week before an election is called and my suspicion is that they are slipping this bill in at the last minute and hoping that no one notices before it is passed as law. The good news is that the media has picked up on it already.

Much SQL Goodness

I rarely link to other blogs, but when I come across something that I think that you, dear readers, would appreciate I feel it would be churlish not to share. I've recently started reading Jeff Smith's SQL Server Weblog and it is a veritable cornucopia of great information.

All of it is good solid advice about how to design, build and work with your database. I even forgive him using the wrong database because everything he writes is of such high quality.

This article alone will come in useful whenever I have to explain the concept of primary keys to monkey coders who only understand object models.

Thanks Jeff, keep up the good work.

September Sydney Python Meetup

On Thursday the 13th of September, 2007 from 6:30PM, there will be a social gathering of Sydney Python Users Group and any individuals interested in discussing Python, Web, Ruby, Perl etc. Laptops, code review, show and tell etc. allowed and encouraged.

We meet in the ground floor area next to P.J. O’Briens Pub internal entrance in the Grace Hotel at the corner of York and King Street, Sydney, New South Wales 2000.

If you are planning on coming please register your attendance at upcoming.

New New Job

Well that was fun. Now I'm looking for a new job. My resume is, as always, located here.

Anyone need an incredibly talented technologist in the Sydney area? I shall be somewhat picky about location this time, because an hour and a half each way to Pymble every day was no fun at all.

In Search of Technologists

In my new executive position I'm responsible for maintaining adequate staffing levels in the technology department of my company. We are pretty much staffed up at the moment but there are some potential projects on the horizon that will tax the capacity of my team. In a novel fit of forward planning I'm trying to find a consulting partner who will be able to help us in these times of high workload. It is proving quite tricky.

So, dear lazyweb, do you know of any reputable consulting companies who will fit our bill. They must be;

  1. On the ground in Australia. A Sydney office is a bonus.
  2. Have competencies in one or more of; Python, PostgreSQL and scaling internet applications
  3. Have a track record and reputable references. I will be checking.
  4. Not cost the earth. Although I'm very aware of how much consultants cost, having been one myself for most of the last fifteen years.

Any and all suggestions are welcomed in the comments or to my email address. As long as they fit our criteria. Outsourcing and offshore development are not an option at this time so please don't suggest these.

Protecting Your Civil Liberties

Its the end of the financial year and an email popped into my in box today reminding me to renew my membership of Electronic Frontiers Australia. Which means that in turn I am reminding anyone reading this blog in Australia that you can do your bit for on line civil liberties by joining up as well.

EFA is an advocacy group focussed on protecting your rights to do and say what you like with your computers, telephones and other electronic communication devices. It is small and underfunded and any contribution you can make will help. If you want to know more, take a look at the web site and in particular the objects and purpose in the association's rules.