Wednesday, April 29, 2009

MySQL community and sushi

Now, relax. This is not haircut blogging. There is actually a true relationship between MySQL Community and sushi. Just bear with me for a while.
I went to meet Drew in front of a quiet sushi restaurant in Santa Clara, CA. In his latest email, he said "we will meet you there", implying that there was more than one person. He mentioned a wife in one of his email, and so I expected at least two people.
Curious thing, this meeting. It all started in 2006, when I published an article about replication techniques. In answer to that article, I received dozens of email messages, with comments, congratulations, requests for help, job offers. Drew's message started as a praise, than he asked some questions, and we exchanged some more emails in the last two years. In November, he told me that since I had been helpful, he would like to take me to a sushi restaurant, and there we are, meeting in person after years of mail exchange.
It turns out that he is with his wife, and three more geeks. What else you expect to find in Silicon Valley, anyway? There are two more guests, who are not in the IT industry, one of whom is a exuberant toddler.
We talk about geeky things, the Sun acquisition by Oracle (which makes a poor subject for conversation since nothing is known) and a less than successful attempt at explaining the risks of circular replication using the soy sauce jar, a glass, and chopsticks to form a diagram on the table.
The food comes. I cast my vote for sashimi, with the semi-general agreement. There is raw tuna, salmon, and sea urchin on the side, with prawn heads in the middle. When I reach for the salmon with my chopsticks, one of the prawn heads moves, in what seems an attempt to bite me. The video shows some of the action.

The owner suggests that we eat the heads while they are still alive. After some looking around, we all agree that we won't do it, and thus we gladly accept the owner's offer to deep fry the prawn heads. When they come back, they are definitely not moving anymore, and thus we eat them without much remorse.
after ...
The dinner continues with sushi, which is deader than the prawns, and doesn't offer any particular challenges.
The discussion is mostly on geeky subjects, and we explore the world of social networks, wondering how can Twitter make money. We find several schemes that may make us rich in one month, but nobody seems particularly eager to invest on it at the moment. The final rush of discussion covers a social network that one of the guests is currently administering. It sounds very entertaining and fast spreading, but venture capitalists don't seem to buy the idea yet. It uses MySQL, though, which is an apt thought at the end of this dinner. The fascinating thing about this network is that it relies on the Mechanichal Turk service to check if the contents are decent. Apparently, it's absolutely forbidden to show nudity in a iPhone application. Therefore, the contents have to be checked before they go public. Despite the name, the Mechanical Turk service is real people (not a politically correct name, IMO) who do micro tasks, like checking that women in the social network pictures are wearing a bra. Apparently, there is no technological replacement for people judgment in this case.
So, my community work has earned me a free sushi dinner, and a few new contacts. Thanks, Drew, it was an enjoyable evening!

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