Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Have you seen the elephant?

In case you're wondering, my upcoming work for KACE doesn't imply that I'm leaving Dayton. Like most of my coworkers, I'll work for KACE by telecommute. It's enormously flattering to be offered a position when the competitors for the job are potentially anybody on the surface of the earth. (Anybody who's interested in a Dayton jelly or telecommuters' club, let me know.)

That's good, but honestly, it's not the aspect of the new job I'm most excited about. It's this.

I'll migrate an important MySQL database to PostgreSQL and become its caretaker. I don't expect to use Oracle at all in the new job (though I'll stay active in the local Oracle community, and do some personal Oracle projects just for fun). Basically, I'll be a full-fledged PostgreSQL DBA.

Oracle has been practically a part of my identity for years, but those who have paid close attention have noticed me sighing in longing for PostgreSQL for years, too; I've said more than once that I'd drop everything to work full-time with PostgreSQL. I didn't think it would ever happen, since Dayton's main employer (the Air Force) has a strong prejudice for proprietary software. But, thanks to KACE, the impossible finally happened.

It's a funny coincidence - but yes, a coincidence - that this happens during a downswing in relations between Oracle and open-source communities; many F/OSS lovers are upset about Oracle's decisions since acquiring Sun. For me, though, it's not a matter of techie politics; PostgreSQL is simply a wonderfully-written database and a joy to work with.

As my relationship with PostgreSQL matures from a clandestine affair conducted at night to a full-time committed relationship, I'm sure we'll get past the honeymoon period and have some arguments, like any couple. Even the best software is still software, after all, and human-software relationships always have their difficult moments. Still, I'm enormously excited to begin this new phase in my love of free software.

Hmm. "PyOraGeek" might not be the most accurate subtitle anymore, but "PyPostgreSQL geek" violates uniqueness constraints in a big way. The rebranding is the hardest part...

sqlpython 1.7.2

sqlpython 1.7.2 has been released! Install it, pretend that your Oracle/PostgreSQL/MySQL database is a UNIX filesystem, and have a blast.

This release doesn't really add any new features. However, it does clean up the sluggishness in metadata operations (like ls and desc) and the major outright bugs that were making sqlpython frankly unusable for an embarrassing number of months.

Sorry for the wait! Hope you'll find the new sqlpython worth it. Functionality for PostgreSQL and MySQL are now fully-fledged, with some relatively minor exceptions (like image BLOB displays). Furthermore, my upcoming position guarantees that the sqlpython/PostgreSQL will get lots of love in coming months.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Moving to KACE

For almost ten years, I've worked for IntelliTech on contract at Wright-Patterson Air Force base. IntelliTech has been a very supportive employer, and my government boss at WPAFB (Ralph Ranard) has been an absolutely amazing supervisor; that's why I've been there so long.

This month, though, an opportunity has come up that I absolutely can't resist. I met Mike Gray and Tyler Gingrich of Dell KACE at Columbus Code Camp, which KACE sponsored partially to make contact with potential employees. (This, incidentally, shows excellent management right there. If you want skilled and passionate geeks, do you hire a recruiter to try to read the tea leaves of the self-promoting buzzwords of a huge stack of resumes? Or do you go to where the most passionate geeks congregate all on their own?)

Everything I've seen about KACE delights me so far. It's a subsidiary of Dell that has intentionally retained its startup spirit since its acquisition. Technical decisions are made by technical people for technical reasons - in other words, people are allowed to use the expertise they were hired for. (I know, that shouldn't be exceptional.) It's got a developer-centered culture that is a huge breath of fresh air. It's friendly to newer technologies and very friendly to open source. For example, I'll be taking over an important database currently in MySQL and migrating it to PostgreSQL. (Getting somebody to pay me for working with PostgreSQL has been a dream of mine for years...) And of course I'll be using Python. I'd wait tables before taking a job with no Python.

During my entire process of interviewing with KACE, it never felt like "job interviews" - those nerve-wracking, superficial, semi-adversarial dances described so depressingly in career publications. Rather, it felt like some long conference-hallway conversations between geeks - very real and very techie.

So... hello KACE! I'm delighted to join you!