Quick and Dirty How-to: Showing Projects from DonorsChoose.org with PHP and AJAX

While developing the Memory Lane application, I decided I wanted to list projects from DonorsChoose.org on the app's main page. Given their convenient API, this seemed like an easy way to support a good cause.

The DonorsChoose API for retrieving project data is simple and well documented. Project data is returned in JSON format; JSON itself is pretty simple, so I figured that retrieving and displaying the project list would be as well.

Turns out that I was both right and wrong, so I wrote up what I learned in case it helps anyone else. If you're curious see my DonorsChoose.org API How-To.

I *Knew* that Option Existed Somewhere!

A number of years ago some folks at Oracle told me about the -runfast option, and I figured there had to be an analog for SQL Server. At long last, someone has proven me right: see http://sqlinthewild.co.za/index.php/2010/04/01/running-sql-faster/ for details.

Maybe I should start compiling a list of these obscure but highly useful options... hrm...

Asked and Answered: When Are You Going to Post Something New?

A couple months ago, someone asked:

When are you going to post some new stuff ?


First let me say that I'm flattered that anyone even noticed that I stopped posting stuff, and even more flattered that they weren't happy about it. So thanks. I appreciate you asking.

With that said, the answer is depressingly simple:

I have no idea.

I started Full Table Scan at a time when I was employed but largely unoccupied. Think wrist restraints of the precious metal variety. Boooorrrring. Combing my love of database technology and writing seemed an ideal way to pass the time.

When my employment nightmare finally came to an end, I decided to take some time off, enjoy my kids while they were still young, and finish the college degree that I had deferred after three very un-stellar years following high school. I took to doing some contract work part-time to grease the wheels and keep my brain from dripping out my ears, but largely I just checked out of society in general and specifically the database world.

A funny thing happened when I started doing contract work - I had to track how long I spent working. From there I would generate invoices, in order to get paid. As a result I became very conscious of where my time was spent and when I was spending time doing something other than playing with my kids. And that pretty much spelled the end of the posts to this blog.

I love databases, and I love to write, but I love my wife and kids a whole lot more. Given the choice between unpaid time with them and unpaid time writing blog posts, well... sorry y'all.

With the college degree finished and the children growing older, however, I've slowly increased the amount of time I spend working. (It's hard to spend time with kids who are in school most or all of the day.) I'm sure that I still don't count as a truly productive member of society, but then again I probably never did. Maybe some day I'll also get back into the habit of paying close attention to the database industry and recording my thoughts about it, but for now I think I'll keep plugging away at the more mundane problems my clients throw at me each day.

It certainly pays better.

Irresistable Miscellaneous

• From the I Never Thought I'd See That Department comes Open Source Database Magainze. Uh-huh.

• Further proof that the database industry is hipper that people think: http://www.dataliberators.com. If nothing else I like Bob's goatee/sunglasses look.

• More silly (and slightly dated) YouTube database fun: 1 and 2

Carry on...

"New Breed" Database Extensibility

At present, I can think of at least 5 "new breed" database vendors that you allow you to extend their SQL language in some form or another:

Netezza
ParAccel
Kognitio
Greenplum (I think)
DATAllegro/Microsoft

Of course, the old guard is well-represented in this category as well - Oracle, DB2, SQL Server, Teradata, etc. all allow language extension via custom functions, plug-ins, etc.

I don't know enough about it yet to know, but I think that Greenplum and AsterData might also belong on this list due to their support for Map/Reduce.

It wasn't all that long ago (3 or 4 years) that most of these vendors didn't even support the full SQL standard, never mind compiled-code extensions to their SQL language. Oh, the possibilities.