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LDS Correlation Survey

I got an interesting letter in the mail today.

CORRELATION DEPARTMENT
Research Information Division
50 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150-0018

April 16, 2010

Dear Brother McElroy:

As the Church grows, our membership is becoming more diverse. The Research Information Division of the Correlation Department at Church headquarters has been directed to conduct the LDS CHURCH MEMBERSHIP SURVEY 2010 to help Church leaders better understand the lives of members and the challenges they face. You have been randomly selected to participate in this study. The survey will include questions about your Church and family experiences.

Please complete this online survey within the first THREE DAYS of receiving it. To begin the survey on the Internet:

  1. Go to the website: http://www.lds.org/emailsurvey
  2. Click the link entitled: LDS Church Membership Survey 2010
  3. Your repondent key for this survey is: ________

The survey should take between 20 and 40 minutes to complete, depending on the size of your family or household. If you do not have access to the Internet or cannot complete the online survey, we will automatically send you a paper copy of the survey in about a week.

Your information is a=complete confidential and will be combined with responses from other members to create a general profile of Church members and their families. We need to hear back from YOU to make the results truly representative. Your prompt response is essential to the success of the study and will eliminate the need and cost of additional follow-up reminders.

Thank you for your help with this important study. If you have any questions or if you need help completing the survey, please call the Research Information Division at Church headquarters (1-800-453-3860, ext. _____). The telephone call is free. Thank you.

Sincerely,

(signed)

Bruce D. Porter
Executive Director
Correlation Department

The survey took me about 30 minutes to complete, and I saved all the questions they asked along the way, for your enjoyment.

Interesting Questions: How many people did this get sent to? What will the response rate be? What would you do with this data?

Without further ado, the questions.

Instantly Social

Facebook’s announcements at f8 earlier today have made socializing any website trivial — instantly. You don’t even need to know how to program. Just add an iframe — one line of html — and you can make your website have an instant social presence. I hacked in the widget just now on my site in a matter of minutes.

This is the one line I added to my blog’s template, in single.php:

<iframe src="http://www.facebook.com/widgets/like.php?show_faces=1&amp;href=<?php
the_permalink() ?>" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" height="61"></iframe>

Buck Twenty-Nine Fail

About a year ago, Amazon.com raised the prices on some of their MP3 offerings to $1.29. Previously, songs were offered in the $0.89 to $0.99price range individually, and less when buying entire albums.
This was a move mirrored by Apple and other online music sales due to price hikes and retail price demands from record labels

I was a big fan of Amazon MP3, and this price hike greatly saddened me. It also changed my music consumption habits, or rather reverted them. I’ll still buy a $0.99 song from Amazon, but if the offering isn’t available at that price point, I will break the law and download the song — often the entire album, because that’s just as easy — for free.

The music industry continues to slowly dig it’s own grave.

MySQL Conference Day 1

My first day at my first MySQL conference was a riotous success. I attended the “State of the Dolphin” keynote followed by talks given by Tim O’Reilly and Facebook’s own Mark Callaghan, who also won a MySQL Community Member of the Year Award during the opening talks. Congrats to Mark!

After the Keynotes, I synced up with other Facebookers at our expo hall booth, and then I went to Domas Mituzas’ talk on “High Concurrency MySQL”. The ballroom couldn’t hold all the people who wanted to watch — there was actually a line outside the door of people listening in on his talk! Although I wouldn’t suggest Domas give up his day job to write slides full-time, he had a great presentation overall that kept the audience interested and engaged.

Next, I attended a presentation on Sqoop by my two-time TA at the UW and now Cloudera co-founder and presenter extraordinaire, Aaron Kimball. Sqoop is a SQL-to-Hadoop translation layer that automates many of the steps of shuttling data from OLTP stores to HDFS for analytics. It is open source and Aaron is it’s primary developer. You can check out the code on github, or use it as part of Cloudera’s Hadoop Distribution.

After lunch, I went to a presentation by Lars Thalmann on new MySQL replication features in 5.1 and 5.5. Lead replication developer Mats Kindall was also there to answer questions. It’s good to see that MySQL is making progress on replication, but it is still woefully limited in a number of ways: not crashproof, single-threaded, and difficulty in replicating to non-MySQL data stores are all weak points of MySQL’s replication system today. These are all on the roadmap, but from the answers to my questions, I got the impression that these ideas are still mostly bullet points on a slide rather than almost-features in MySQL.

Make no mistake, these features are hard to add — I’ve dabbled around in the area myself — and it took Mark a concerted effort to port rpl_transaction_enabled from our 5.0 patch to Facebook’s 5.1 patch. Still, I hope MySQL takes the rpl_transaction_enabled patch and  into 5.1 or 5.5 officially, because in any large deployment, it is incredibly useful to not manually intervene when a slave crashes.

After the replication talk, I went back to the expo hall to talk with people, then I hacked on MySQL in the afternoon. Could there possibly be a better venue for this? Two (small) diffs later, and I was back into the expo hall socializing/recruiting for Facebook. The night ended well with a trip to In-and-Out.

MySQL Conference Begins Tomorrow

The 2010 O’Reilly MySQL Conference starts tomorrow in Santa Clara. Facebook’s Database Engineering team (which includes me!) will be there along with some of our Operations team and our one-man Performance team. Each team will be giving a talk at the conference:

On Tuesday, the Database Performance Team will be presenting on “High Concurrency MySQL.” Domas is an interesting, animated fellow, and I imagine that his talk will be quite entertaining as well as informative.

On Wednesday, the Database Operations Team will be speaking about Database Operations at Scale. Our DB Ops guys are some of the best in the business; they keep our database tiers, which are often under enormous pressure from growth and changing requirements, running remarkably well.

On Thursday, Mark Callaghan, Ryan Mack, and I will be presenting our talk on High-throughput MySQL (we claim that Domas stole our title rather than the other way around). Mark Callaghan is one of the leading advocates for MySQL at Facebook and in the MySQL community. Working with him and the original Ryan (as I call Ryan Mack, who preceded me on this team) has been nothing short of an extraordinary opportunity for me to learn from the best.

Uncommunicative Tweets

My friends are occasionally perplexed  by my tweets. In response to one recent tweet, my friend Dan responded:

@RyanMcE You need to add more words if you intend your tweets to be communicative.

And he is absolutely correct. In this case, there is nothing private about the tweet in question (“Dubious indeed”). The story was that my friend Maria and I pulled an April Fools prank on Facebook by becoming engaged. Enough people fell for it that it was fun, but one of my friends called the timing of the announcement “dubious,” since it did come of the first of April. The tweet was in reference to this comment; probably only those who happen to follow me on Facebook would have had any idea what I was talking about.

So, if there is a tweet you don’t understand, know this: not all my tweets are meant to be communicative to all audiences.  Just like with some of my blog posts, some of my tweets are really just markers in time for my future reference. I wrote about something like this before, in a  post called Why I Blog, and before twitter, I would occasionally post a one-liner to this blog. Now those one-liners have simply migrated to Twitter.