Monthly Archives: August 2006

Edit of the Week: Previews of Upcoming Releases

I always wanted to revive this column but never found a controversial edit that was interesting enough / didn’t have too much flame notes. So, here we go:

http://musicbrainz.org/show/edit/?editid=5467441

What’s it about? Well, in short: if an artist releases a song on their website that is likely or said to appear on a release in the future, then is this a legal non-album track or not? Of course it’s also possible that it will definitely appear on a release but in another version.

So, shall we wait until the release is out and then only add it as a NAT if it’s a different version or should we just add it and later delete it if necessary (the guidelines state this)?

TRM server outage

The TRM server hardware has been giving us some issues in the last week. We’re having to reboot the TRM server a lot more frequently than I care for, so I will take the TRM server down tomorrow and have a look to see what the issue might be.

The TRM server will be offline for about 1-2 hours tomorrow Wednesday August 23rd, at Noon PST/2000 BST/2100 CEST.

UPDATE: The outage is now over — I could not find any problems with the server, so the random lock-ups go unexplained. :-(

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Final call for testing

After passing on the release last weekend, I think we’re ready to try again. This is the last call for bugs for this release! If you find a serious bug, please enter it into trac and I’ll see about getting it fixed. Please don’t enter any enhancements requests for this release — I’m only fixing bugs at this point and will do no enhancements right now.

The bug fix update release is scheduled for this Sunday. Go test on the staging server and report bugs or look at the list of closed bugs.

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New staging server up!

Over the past few weeks I’ve taken our venerable first server zim and given him a bit of an overhaul. A new motherboard, with 2GBs of RAM and a RAID SATA controller have given Zim a new lease on life as our test server. Now that the test server is no longer at my house, I can stop paying for the expensive net connection with the static IPs. Yay!

The staging server is currently called zim2.musicbrainz.org, but this should be fixed some time tomorrow.

I would like to give a big-fat thanks to Cliff Skolnick, Apache contributor and the leading force behing RightRound. Cliff is hosting our new staging server in his personal hosting setup as a favor to MusicBrainz. Thanks Cliff and the team at RightRound — we appreciate your support!

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Developer changes

As many of you may have noticed, we’ve had a number of conflicts surrounding the development of the MusicBrainz server source code. Open source developers must work to foster the community of their projects and work towards creating a consensus towards new/improved features.

After an increasing number of conflicts with the community Stefan was warned that his actions as a developer were not acceptable. After countless emails and a number of Skype calls I warned Stefan that the next time he participated in an escalation with one of the community members that I would remove his developer privileges.

Today another one of these escalations took place and I removed Stefan’s developer privileges.

As of right now, I will assume all duties of the MusicBrainz server developer. I will fix any remaining bugs, settle remaining conflicts and work to get the next bug update done as soon as possible. Fortunately now that I can devote all my time to MusicBrainz, I will have more time to devote to getting new server features coded.

With a heavy heart,

Evil Overlord

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No release sunday

Too many bugs have rolled into allow us to to a bug fix update this weekend. Given the update fiasco from last time, we’re going to wait until the issues settle and these bugs are addressed.

I know a lot of people are anxious to get this bug fix release out. If you are one of those people, make sure you get your bug reports in ASAP. Unloading a wad of bug reports that should’ve been raised weeks ago within 48 hours of a planned release will only hamstring the release process. If you’re one of the people who is anxious about getting bug fixes out, please enter your concerns now and not 2 days before the next attempted release date.

We’ll shoot for next Sunday as a the next update time.

Sorry folks!

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MusicIP open sources a small server extension

I’m pleased to announce that MusicIP has just open sourced a small extension to the MusicBrainz server!

MusicIP contracted me to write a set of SQL scripts that would take their mirror of the MB database and create an extra table that stores the first release date for each track. As you may know we have this for albums, but we haven’t had (or needed) this for the track level.

If you’d like to check out this extension, you can find it here. Take a look at the README file to see how this should be used.

Please note that this code is checked into the RELEASE_20060712 branch — once we’re finished with dev work on this branch we will merge it back into the trunk.

Big thanks to Wendell Hicken and Matthew Dunn of MusicIP!

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To search aliases or not?

In ticket #1731 we’re currently discussing the merits of having the artist aliases searched by default. Compare these two searches:

  1. Search without aliases for “Jennifer”
  2. Search with aliases for “Jennifer”

The perfect match for Jennifer is half-way down the page of results if aliases are included. Jennifer is all the way at the top (where it should be) when the aliases are not searched.

So, why does this happen?

Take for instance the top hit of the with aliases search: Jennifer Paige. She has an alias for “Jennifer Page“, so when Lucene ranks the search results, the word Jennifer appears twice, which is a better match than when the word appears only once. This disturbed our users and it plain feels wrong to me.

Then I tried to play with Lucene’s term boosting functions. Take this query:

aritst:jennifer^10 sortname:jennifer^10 alias:jennifer^0.0000001

In English, it says to search for Jennifer in artist names and sortnames and to make these hits 10 times more “important” than normal hits. It also says to search aliases and make hits from this vastly less important than normal hits. The result, Jennifer is at the top as we want. But, what happens when we search for Bjork (not Björk)?

We get this mess where Björk is the last search hit with a score of 0. (this is not the best example since the next version of search will automatically find Björk when searching for Bjork, but it still illustrates the problem)

As you can see, tweaking the searches to make things better one way, will make other searches worse. Do you think it its more important to search aliases by default or to have better search results by default?

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Call for bug-fix testing

We’ve fixed a number of bugs (321 of them as of right now!) and we should be ready to go for another bug-fix update of the main server this weekend. To avoid the mess we had last time, please take some time in the next few days to check the test server to see how things are looking. Please test now and not after the release!

I would also like to remind people that if you find a bug to report it via our bug tracker. Please do not mail bug reports or mention them in IRC in hopes of having them fixed. Also, if you don’t report a bug before the release, please don’t scream your head off if the issue hits the main servers when we do the release.

Go test on the staging server and report bugs or look at the list of closed bugs.

Thanks to Stefan for fixing all these bugs!

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