Charlie Harvey

All your base conference

tl;dr The All Your Base database conference in Oxford was great. I went to it.

I recently went along to the fantastic All Your Base database conference which happened in Oxford on 23 November 2012. If you don't get the reference, then you ahould read up on the "all your base are belong to us" meme. Here is a video.

The day began, for me with a large quantity of T-Shirts. That and caffeine. There was an ethernet cable in our googie bags. Pretty cool. Even cooler we could plug in to the network with it. I resisted the urge to break out nmap and enumerate the network. For once.

The talks were in blocks of three speakers. John Wards from the conference organizers White October welcomed us first of all. He was followed by Alvin Hall from 10gen, who sounded way to British to be an American as he claimed to be. He was talking about mongoDB, he did a good job of keeping it technically focussed and I learned that it is called mongo as mongo is part of the word humongous. Geddit?

Next up, Luca Garulli talked aboutgraph databases in general and OrientDB in particular. Graph databases have nodes which contain pointers to their neighbours meaning that index lookups are unnecessary. Dale Harvey talked about PouchDB — the database that syncs — and some of the specifics of handling mobile storage next. And then it was time for coffee. It was gloriously sunny and surprisingly warm outside the Said business school. And coffee was taken.

Monty widenius, creator of MySQL

Basho’s Matt Heitzenroder talked about Riak after the coffee break. He was a great presenter and I really need to look at Riak. After Matt, Monty Widenius took the stage. Monty is a legend. Not only did he create MySQL, but he now works on MariaDB, which has as its raison d’etre being "the community maintenance of its free status under the GNU GPL," rather than MySQL’s wobbly licence and especially Oracle’s ambivelant relationship to Free Software. I was totally convinced by Monty’s presentation and swapped out the MySQL install on my laptop during the presentation to try it out (it works wonderfully, BTW).

After Lunch, Brandon Keepers of GitHub did a tongue in cheek presentation of how one might use git as a database. Though he has actually written code. Peter Cooper gave an enthusiastic presentation of the advantages of Redis, which looks awesome and has a site that lets you try it out in browser. How cool is that? Lisa Phillips told us how Twitter use thousands of MySQL databases to write billions of rows a day. I was frightened at that point. I generally think of millions of rows being a lot.

ayb conference audience
Photo by garretc used under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA licence.

Perhaps my favourite presenter of the day was Brian Leroux whose talk was called "mobile web persistence strategies for offline clients". He was seriously funny and mentioned some stuff from his wtfjs blog, which I’d not come across before. Craig Kersteins of Heroku talked about PostgresQL, which is way more full featured than I had imagined and which I’ll definitely be playing with soon. Tom Moreton of Acunu had the unenviable job of wrapping up for an audience of 250 geeks who knew that there was free beer over the road. His presentation covered Apache Cassandra — worth a look if you need to do a shitload of writes in a distributed setting (think big analytics).

I had no chance to survive, so I made my time

We went for beers over the road at the Jam Factory. And I drank many ciders. Perhaps even too many. As it turns out cider doesn’t scale smoothly and I had no chance to survive, so I made my time and I left the hardcore folk still drinking at the Living Room. Props to all involved in the organiztion of a fascinating and enjoyable day.


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