High Performance MySQL, Second Edition

I’m pleased to say that the Second Edition of High Performance MySQL is now available for purchase from Amazon.com.
Baron, Peter, Vadim and Arjen did an excellent job updating the first edition, bringing it current to support 5.0 and 5.1 flavors of MySQL, expanding the content of the previous edition by more than doubling its size (from a first edition page-count of 275, to a second edition page-count of 708). There’s a lot of good stuff in there, and if MySQL administration is your daily grind, picking up a copy would be well-advised.

In Five Months, It All Comes To An End

On July 21, the last Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be released to an eager public.
I was somewhat of a late arrival to the Harry Potter craze. I think it was when I was on a cross-country flight and saw no fewer than four “business types” on the flight reading Book 3 that I realized, “Hmmm, maybe there’s something more to this than just a kid’s book?” and I was hooked shortly thereafter.
Now, I won’t claim I wait in line at midnight or anything crazy like that, I won’t even claim that I’m the kind of person who has to start reading it the day it’s out and crank through it immediately, but I am looking forward to it, if for no other reason than to figure out how J.K. Rowling wraps things up.

Me v. Everybody

Dave bought me a copy of a book the other day, called Me v. Everybody: Absurd Contracts for an Absurd World. This is seriously some of the funniest shit I have read in ages. Some examples of the contracts in this thing:

  • Contract for Entry Into a Long-Term Relationship
  • Contract for a Blind Date
  • Agreement for Peaceful Sharing of Single Bathroom Among Multiple Users
  • Contract for the Immediate “Relocation” of your Boss

Seriously good stuff. Highly recommended.

Comparing and Contrasting

In Quicksilver, I was 400 pages in, and couldn’t give a fetid dingo’s kidney about any of the characters, where they were going, or what the plot was.
In American Gods, Gaiman has me hooked by page 40, and I want to keep turning the page to see where it’s going, and what’s going to happen next.
I’ll probably sell my Quicksilver on eBay (unless a reader here wants to buy it… I treat my books pristinely, as anyone who’s borrowed from me — or had to buy me a new copy of something they tried to return in less than perfect condition — can vouch for).

Quicksilver, Redux

I’m 400 pages in, and the worst possible thing could happen.
Stephenson just starts fucking around with the Geography of Europe. He invents a country in the middle of nowhere. Quicksilver is a book set in a historical setting. It’s quite obviously “our world” because it’s got bits dealing with the Crusades, the Black Plague, numerous historical figures, etc.
But then, he completely shatters the suspension of disbelief by making up a country. Adding insult to injury, it’s not even something “subtle” like having a country’s name that might be vaguely pronounceable. Nope, this mythical country’s name is Qwghlm. No, that’s not spelled wrong. No, there are no vowels in it.
I give up, Neal. You’re officially a moron. I read through “Book I” (which is, basically one half of Quicksilver), through around 400 pages or so, and realized I didn’t give a wet slap about any of the characters. Not a one. If page 401 told me that a guy from the future came back in time with an M16A2 and slaughtered them all, I would have been OK with that. Now, you just start making up countries with unpronounceable names (although, I’m supposed to believe that’s pronounced “taggum”… yeah, whatever) and expect me to just play along.
When I read Stephenson’s earlier works, I went on a buying frenzy at the time, snatching up copies of everything I could find, and reading them voraciously.. they were great (although they all seemed to suffer from Stephenson’s inability to write a good ending).
Seems now, the entire book is the ending, because the entire volume sucks ass.
I think I finally figured out the “point” of the book. He’ll write the three volumes in increasing orders of stupidity and see how sycophantic the book-buying populace… will they keep snatching up his works, even if they amount to nothing more than drunken ravings? Get over yourself, Neal, you’re not Jim Morrisson, so the drunken nonsense routine isn’t going to play for you nearly as well as it played for him.


OK, there’s a bunch of Neal Stephenson fans out there… some of you are even folks I turned on to him by handing you a well-worn copy of Snow Crash… So for all of you, I ask this simple question:
Does Quicksilver at some point become interesting?
I think Stephenson is losing his touch, or something. I’m not sure. Books like Snow Crash, or Diamond Age, or Zodiac all caught me in the first chapter, or at worst the second. (Heck, with Snow Crash, I was caught within the first page by The Deliverator!)
I’m five or six chapters into Quicksilver and it’s like reading the friggin’ phone book to me.
Can someone out there please give me some assurance that this becomes better?

A Glutton For Literary Punishment

… and in other book news, today, I realized I am a glutton for punishment on some things.
A year ago, I managed to read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion in its entirety. Now, as anyone who has attempted to do this knows, this is no easy task. The prose is dry, the characters and such almost entirely unfamiliar (with the basic exception of Sauron, and even then he’s only a minor character in the histories that are involved).
It’s basically a royal pain in the ass.
Like most geeks, I’ve got a “book queue” of sorts, the books I’ve purchased that I want to read. Well, three years ago while I was still at Yahoo, I bought a bunch of books, and three days ago, I set upon a quest.
I am reading, start to finish, the twelve-volume History of Middle-Earth books. Now, if you think The Silmarillion is dry, you haven’t seen The Book of Lost Tales! Good chunks of it are prose as dry as the former, but then filled with pages of analysis of the work itself, how Tolkien evolved the history from revision to revision.
Dry, but interesting, reading. I’ll probably know way more about Middle-Earth than I ever needed to know, by the time I’m done.

MIT Hacks

One of the books I picked up while visiting Powells in Portland was a copy of Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT. It is written by the Institute Historian, and covers the entire history of the legendary MIT hacks, including commentary from people who did the hacks, as well as some victims and some of the folks from the Confined Space Rescue Team (who were once dubbed, by the hackers themselves “Hackbusters”, since they’re the ones who have to do the cleanup afterwards).
It’s not a long book, only 176 pages, and a number of photographs of classic hacks, but definitely worth adding to the collection of your favorite geek.