Bug? Feature? Yes.

So – I’ve signed up for a SkypeOut subscription and a SkypeIn number in a long and almost funny story about overhead, organization telecommunications, and just the mere fact that I rarely use that ringy thing on the desk. (Although, honestly, I have had a lot of interactions recently that just could not be done within IM and email, which is somewhat rare for the participants involved).

Oh, yeah, and the fact that I had to try it all out, you know, like “for science”

I’m not sold on skype, but they seem to be the only ones with effective bridges in and out to the telephone network. (Dear Google, give me a telephone system bridge with Google Voice and some kind of VOIP that can talk to my microphone and speakers – like audio GChat, and I’ll so totally pay for Google Voice, certainly some significant percentage of what I pay the monopoly bell provider).

So, anyway, long stories to be told later. Today I gave the Skype line a good test for the first time. Having a co-worker call me – through my Google Voice number – which was set up to ring the home phone, skype phone, and cell phone) and answering with the skype phone.

It performed adequately, I wasn’t talking with a headset, and instead was talking at my computer screen in that kind of “raised, commanding voice” that one uses with speakerphones.

My co-worker was using Vonage. So it was Vonage over Time Warner to Google Voice to Skype over Time Warner – which strikes me as funny, like “The House that Jack’s Mouse that Ate the Clock that Struck 12” funny.

But the best part was when the co-worker’s child’s elementary school robo-called him on his vonage number, which is set to roll over to his cell phone (like how many technologies should we have had here? maybe I should have been using Skype on the iPhone) – when he got that call on the Vonage line – Google Voice suddenly spontaneously started recording our call. (You can press 4 during the call on Google Voice to start recording but as far as I know, my focus was not on the Skype client and keypad, and not even that weird Macintosh click-through focus) – plus it was waaaaay too closely tied with the reception of that vonage call.

I hadn’t the foggiest where that call recording announcement came from until I looked at the Google Voice inbox.

Spontaneous call recording with call rollover notifications over VOIP? Bug? Feature? We report, you decide.

p.s. And remind me not to use the computer as a speakerphone, talk about a direct, blunt, almost angry sounding voice I had going on there, I so need to start recording myself more (which my family has been telling me for years) – my voice so totally does not sound that direct/blunt/forceful in my head. Whoa nelly. I’m sure it’s the mp3 encoding – yeah, that was it 🙂

p.p.s. No, you will not be hearing a copy of the recording.

p.p.p.s Though it was pretty funny when my co-worker said “it’s because my head doesn’t dampen sound enough” But, nope, still not uploading the recording. Though I might snippet me saying “That… was… FAIL!” in a total southern accent “Faaaayyyyallle”

A Story of a Bug

It started, as it should, with the belief that it was my own bug.

I’ve been working for the last few days to generate daily summaries of the activity flowing through our tools. It’s nothing earth shattering, but it’s been a stepping stone to understand a little bit more about the Rails framework – and gave me the chance to begin experimenting with the Google Visualization API. Toward the latter part of the week, there was something a little odd with the “total valid” numbers with the daily account creations – I had made data changes to make sure I had some idea when accounts were vouched for and when they had been retired – so I naturally assumed it was something I did. I even went back and modified the model to make it more consitent with it’s peer models. And kept running the script that produced the daily stats in the Einstein-esque insanity of the doing the same thing twice and expecting different results. After about a dozen combinations of DATE(date_column) comparisons – I went to google, because I knew by then I was either going crazy or this was a legitimate “it’s not my problem” bug.

Which led me to this mysql bug. Reported July 19, 2007. Apparently introduced in MySQL 5.0.42 (May 2007) when the DATE comparison changed from strings to ints. Fixed within two days as part of 5.0.48 (Released August 2007).

But guess which mysql package Red Hat EL 5 (well, RHEL5 update 2) provides? – right, in between. It’s MySQL 5.0.45. And the forthcoming RHEL5 update 3 release doesn’t update MySQL either.

Development and System Administration is a weird, weird world. I use RHEL, not for support (I’m not even sure we have support with the University contract), but to have some degree of patch level stability that’s slightly longer than the fedora releases (and at the time I went to RHEL, Fedora was still dealing with it’s Red Hat transition) – but that stability comes with the price of things like this. I already use my own Ruby to get beyond the base install, but configure, make, make install for one piece of core software is a little different than dealing with it (or MySQL-supplied RPMs) for other software.

I’m glad the open source world gives me that choice, but open source + my labor + thousands of moving parts does give provide the reality that even when a bug is fixed two days later, in the open, patchable by everyone – that sometimes you can find yourself over a year later modifying your own DATE queries so that they don’t include nulls.

So that’s the overall summary of the post I guess – part of it to go into google that if you are getting odd MySQL DATE function results on MySQL 5.0.45 on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL 5) – it’s a bug. And it’s fixed. But not included in RHEL 5. And if you aren’t getting odd results with DATE comparisons – you probably don’t know that you are.

And maybe one part as a lament to that inevitable ongoing intersection of thousands of moving parts in every environment, not the least of which ours. And you trade off replacing mysql on multiple servers and just turn nulls into zeros (which then breaks your signup form that desparately needs an overhaul) – well, because it seemed to make sense at the time.

And people say you don’t use probability after college.