Looking for a new style leader!

The style guideline process has been stuck in neutral for quite some time and I was hoping that Panda could take over this role from Don Redman (who had been swallowed up by real life quite some time ago), but real life is about to swallow Panda for the foreseeable future. Thus, I start the search for a new leader of the Style Council once again.

The new leader for the style council would need to:

  1. Review the process by which style guidelines get updated. Obviously this process is flawed.
  2. Devise a new method by which the style council works on style guidelines. The new leader can choose to use the Wiki, the bug tracker, mailing lists, forums, smoke signals or anything else they choose. This process has to fit with the structure of MusicBrainz and our bottom up method for working together. I will personally work with the new style leader to define this process.
  3. Document and implement the new process
  4. Lead the style council.

Qualifications of the new style leader include:

  1. Excellent communication skills
  2. Excellent knowledge in music, especially classical.
  3. Must not be embattled in current proposals. Ideally the leader would be neutral on existing proposals and keep an objective stance on new proposals as they move through the process.
  4. Skillz in bringing about consensus. We need a strong communicator who can settle long raging debates and use their judgement to settle debates and remove contentious points from discussion. This leader needs to keep people focused when debates rage out of control.

I would very much like to see the new style process be a bottom up process where the community brings about proposals much like they do today. The major difference is that the new style leader would have the authority and presence to move these proposals along when they get stuck. My vision is that this person isn’t a nanny who micro-manages the community of style people, but rather one who provides lubrication for the process to run smoothly. If something gets stuck, forgotten or argued to death, the leader should jump in an rectify the situation.

If this position interests you, please speak up in the comments. If you think someone in the community would make an excellent leader, but suspect that this person isn’t going to speak up, please nominate them in the comments. I will take the proposed people, chat with them and chat with members in the community to see how they feel about this person. Then, I’ll make a benevolent dictator decision and install the new style council leader and set them off to their task.

Call for search server testing

After I gave some history in the last post, I’d like to put out a call for testing for the new search server. In moving from Lucene to Xapian I’ve fixed a number of bugs, some of which have been lingering for a while. Also see the list of bugs we still have open and plan to fix before the release.

If you have a pet-peeve bug that’s been annoying you, please check to see how our new Xapian test server is handling things now. (Please be patient with our the dev server, the box needs an upgrade soon!)

If you are a fluent speaker in Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Thai, please take a moment to look up some artists! We had some problems with searching Chinese text, but I think I fixed it, but I am not proficient in any of the applicable languages, so please help sanity check me!

Unless I find more bugs, this new search server will go into production sometime next week. If you find a bug, please report it to the usual place.

Search: Why is it so important?

After many days of tinkering, the new search server has passed its tests and is nearly ready for deployment next week. After my last post on the search services, there were lots of questions, so I’ll give some more history on why I’m working on this now:

  1. The old Lucene based search services worked well, but installing them was a major pain. Installing compilers by hand, sacrificing chickens and hoping that things would work wasn’t my idea of fun.
  2. Lucene has a philosophy of working out of the box without significant tweaks. That’s great if you’re indexing a bunch of text, but indexing music metadata from an SQL database is a bit of a different beast. The usual Lucene tricks didn’t work so well for us, so we couldn’t tweak it to work better for us. Xapian requires a little more tuning out of the box, but our search results are much better now than they were before.
  3. Sending metadata lookup traffic to a service like Xapian is generally a good idea, as a single Xapian server can handle lookup traffic more elegantly than a Postgres database. And adding more search servers is easier than adding more database servers.
  4. Our traffic is growing — I expect us to handle twice as much traffic in July as we did the July before. A lot of this traffic growth is coming from people using our web-service to look up music. If the web-service slows down, the rest of the site slows down as well. So I’m trying to stay ahead of the curve an anticipate when we reach capacity and be able to add more machines as necessary

As of next week, MusicBrainz will have twice as much rack-space (20U’s of space!) and we can finally rack the two new servers that were donated a few months ago. Fortunately due to dropping bandwidth costs, this new space doesn’t really come at a greater expense to us — I expect our hosting costs to stay nearly the same as they are now. (about $1000/mo, btw)

This will allow us to have 3 times the search capacity we have now, which should keep the site working for a while longer. In fall I hope to start moving our web-service to Amazon’s EC2 service, which should allow us to get as much capacity as we need.

As soon as I get the new search services deployed I’m putting my head down and coding the next server update. So, keep your fingers crossed that this process goes smoothly.

Bug tracker in read-only mode for a while

Dave was working on upgrading software on our catch-all server and ran into some problems with plugins for trac, our bug tracking system. Trac is currently up, but the plugin to log-in hasn’t been installed yet, so no one can log into track right now.

Dave will continue working on this in about 8-10 hours of time. Sorry for the inconvenience!

UPDATE: Everything is back to normal now. Thanks Dave!

Discographies database schema review

If you’re interested in Niklas’ Summer of Code project to implement Discography support in MusicBrainz, I would suggest that you follow his blog and read his latest entry: “Database design and a question to users“. Niklas and I have been working on the design of the database tables that will enable his SoC project. We think we’re collecting the right information, but I’m nearly always wrong. So, if you have database design experience, please take a look at this latest post has tell us just how wrong we are. 🙂

Mac OS X Developer for Picard releases wanted

Its clear that I won’t find the time to package up Picard for OS X anytime soon. I’ve put out one Intel based DMG, but haven’t found the time to create a Universal Binary package of Picard. 😦

If you have the following:

  • Knowledge of building Mac OS X Application Bundles
  • Python knowledge
  • Love for Picard
  • Access to Intel and PPC Macs

We would very much like to talk to you. The last item isn’t crucial — I suppose we can get people in the community to test your builds for platforms you have no access to. Please leave a comment if you’re interested in helping out.

Blog moved to WordPress

I’ve finally moved our blog to the WordPress blogging system. This should alleviate all of the problems with blog comments that people were experiencing.

If you had a blog account on the old blog and would like to continue using it, please comment below and I will coordinate creating a password for you in this new blog.

If you have trouble using the new blog or find important links that are not redirecting, please create a new bug report.