Open DNS for When DNS Outages Occur

Open DNS is a DNS resolver that caches records beyond their TTL if the upstream DNS server cannot be found. In cases like today’s major outage it can be handy to swap your DNS settings out for this, or it may be worth using as a standard default. Resolution may be a bit slow as it will try to see if the upstream server cannot be found, but it at least can get you back to a working state.

If you know what you’re doing then all you need to do is configure your DNS settings to: and

If you need a little more guidance you can go into your System Preferences on Mac, select Network, then Advanced and finally the DNS tab. You should set it up to look as follows:

DNS Configuration

A Tour of Postgres’ Foreign Data Wrappers

SQL can be a powerful language for reporting. Whether you’re just exploring some data, or generating reports that show month over month revenue growth it’s the lingua franca for data analysis. But, your data isn’t always in a SQL database, even then if you’re using Postgres you can still likely use SQL to analyze, query, even joing with that data. Foreign data wrappers have been around for years in Postgres, but are continuing to mature and be a great option for joining disparate systems.

Overview of foreign data wrappers

If you’re unfamiliar, foreign data wrappers, or FDW, allow you to connect from within Postgres to a remote system. Then you can query them from directly within Postgres. While there is an official Postgres FDW that ships with Postgres itself, that allows you to connect from one Postgres DB to another, there’s also a broad community of others.

At the core of it Postgres provides certain APIs under the covers which each FDW extension can implement. This can include the ability to map SQL to whatever makes sense for a given system, push down various operators like where clauses, and as of Postgres 9.3 can even write data. Read on

Five Mistakes Beginners Make When Working With Databases

When you start out as a developer there’s an overwhelming amount of things to grasp. First there’s the language itself, then all the quirks of the specific framework you’re using,and after that (or maybe before) we’ll throw front-end development into the mix, and somewhere along the line you have to decide to store your data somewhere.

Early on, with so many things to quickly master, the database tends to be an after-though in application design (perhaps because it doesn’t make an impact to end user experience). As a result there’s a number of bad practices that tend to get picked up when working with databases, here’s a rundown of just a few.

Read on

Hands on Postgres Sharding

Notice: Much of this post still applies, but now applies more directly to Citus. Since this post originally published, pg_shard is now deprecated. Citus now has an open source version which offer a superset of the features of pg_shard, as well as a cloud offering. Finally you can find some further guidance for sharding on the Citus blog and docs

Back in 2012 I wrote an overview of database sharding. Since then I’ve had a few questions about it, which have really increased in frequency over the last two months. As a result I thought I’d do a deeper dive with some actual hands on for sharding. Though for this hands on, because I do value my time I’m going to take advantage of pg_shard rather than creating mechanisms from scratch.

For those unfamiliar pg_shard is an open source extension from Citus data who has a commerical product that you can think of is pg_shard++ (and probably much more). Pg_shard adds a little extra to let data automatically distribute to other Postgres tables (logical shards) and Postgres databases/instances (physical shards) thus letting you outgrow a single Postgres node pretty simply.

Alright, enough talk about it, let’s get things up and running.

Read on

What Being a PM Is Really Like - Software Is Easy, People Are Hard

In recent months I’ve had the question nearly once a week about advice/tips for becoming a Product Manager or more commonly referred to as PM. These are generally coming from people that are either currently engineers, or previously were and are in some engineer/customer role such as a sales engineer or solution architect. There’s a number of high level pieces talking about PM and it often feels glorious, I mean you get to make product decisions right? You get to call some shots. Well that sometimes may be true, but don’t assume it’s all rainbows and sparkles.

Especially as a first time PM what your day to day will look like won’t be debating strategy all day long. Here’s a few of the good and the bad sides of being a PM.

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Marketing Definitions for Developers

Marketing often feels like a dirty-icky thing to many developers. Well until you feel like you have a great product, but no one using it then you have to get a crash course in all of that. And while I might cover some of the actual basics in the future, just knowing what marketing people actually mean when they’re talking can be a huge jump start. Here’s a guide that distills many of the acronyms and terms down to what they actually mean in reality.

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Writing More Legible SQL

A number of times in a crowd I’ve asked how many people enjoy writing SQL, and often there’s a person or two. The follow up is how many people enjoy reading other people’s SQL and that’s unanimously 0. The reason for this is that so many people write bad SQL. It’s not that it doesn’t do the job, it’s just that people don’t tend to treat SQL the same as other languages and don’t follow strong code formatting guidelines. So, of course here’s some of my own recommendations on how to make SQL more readable.

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My Top 10 Postgres Features and Tips for 2016

I find during the holiday season many pick up new books, learn a new language, or brush up on some other skill in general. Here’s my contribution to hopefully giving you a few new things to learn about Postgres and ideally utilize in the new year. It’s not in a top 10 list as much as 10 tips and tricks you should be aware of as when you need them they become incredibly handy. But, first a shameless plug if you find any of the following helpful, consider subscribing to Postgres weekly a weekly newsletter with interesting Postgres content.

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Postgres 9.5 - the Feature Rundown

The headline of Postgres 9.5 is undoubtedly: Insert… on conflict do nothing/update or more commonly known as Upsert or Merge. This removes one of the last remaining features which other databases had over Postgres. Sure we’ll take a look at it, but first let’s browse through some of the other features you can look forward to when Postgres 9.5 lands:

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Going From Blog Posts to Full Launches

I recall extremely early stage where you’d build a feature, realize it was awesome, then the next day write a blog post for it. At some point you start to move from that to more coordinated launches. A larger coordinated launch allows you to reach a bigger audience, can lead to bigger deals, and help expand your overall market. But perhaps more importantly by the time you hit full launch you’ve message tested and ensured it’s going to resonate in the way you expect.

The process itself will both help amplify and validate/refine your message

This is often a more gradual process than a sudden single change, you’ll introduce new parts of this in time. And for many what an entire launch process looks like comes by trial an error, to help shorten that learning curve here’s key areas I pay attention for a launch and process followed by a rough timeline.

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