Author Archives: ruaok

New business relations guru: Christina Smith

I am pleased to announce that I’ve just hired our first person responsible for looking after the day-to-day business operations of MetaBrainz! Christina Smith, a Canadian who also lives in Barcelona, has signed on as our part-time Business Development Guru (/Manager/Troublemaker/What have you).

This marks a significant step forward for us in a number of ways. First, it acknowledges that we have grown enough to warrant such a position. Second, Christina will improve how we communicate with customers and how much revenue we bring into the foundation. In the last two years we’ve added several new projects, but haven’t been able to hire new engineers to work on these projects, so hopefully having Christina will allow us to grow to support our new projects as well.

Christina’s responsibilities can be summarized as:

  • manage relationships with our supporters
  • provide timely, friendly and helpful answers and solutions for our supporters
  • increase revenues by connecting and building relationships with current and potential supporters
  • general accounting tasks including invoicing and payment tracking
  • periodic research, recommendations and help to address evolving business needs. (e.g. research the implementation of a company presence in Europe, including help in setting up a new headquarter in Barcelona)
  • research and suggestions on law and policy issues related to the business

I am super excited that Christina will be working with us — this removes a pile of tasks off my plate, which should allow me to focus more on running the foundation and managing our teams.

For the remainder of December, Christina will work on research tasks on how we can establish a better base in the EU. Then in January she will properly join the team and be present in our IRC meetings.

Welcome on board, Christina!

New search server build deployed

Today we’ve deployed a new build of the search server code. As you may know, we’ve been having loads of issues with our search servers recently.

In an effort to figure out what causes the bizarre behaviour we’ve observed, we compiled a new version of the codebase with a more recent version of Lucene. In theory this makes no feature changes to the codebase, but you never know if that is actually the case.

We hope that this build will be more stable, but we’ll need to observe over the next few days to see if that will be the case. If you spot any problems, please report them in our SEARCH bug tracker.

Thanks!

Laurent Monin joins the team as a part-time sysadmin

For the first time in a number of years we have a person responsible for system administration! Over the past few years we’ve been trying to spread the duties to maintain our servers among our developers. This only worked so well and the duties are piling up and not being attended to.

With the introduction of our new MetaBrainz site in May, we finally have an increasing revenue stream, which allows us to finally hire a paid sysadmin. Hopefully we can work on our back log of tasks now.

Laurent Monin (aka Zas) is no stranger to our project — he has been hacking on Picard for a number of years and he attended last year’s summit in Copenhagen. I’m quite happy to have found a community member and long-standing contributor to take on this task.

Some of the first tasks that Laurent will take on are from direct feedback from our blog series about community improvements. We’re hoping to consolidate our mailing lists and forums into a Discourse instance and then provide single sign on for Discourse, our Wiki and Jira. Stuff we’ve talked about for years, but never have made any progress on.

I’m quite excited to have Zas on board! Welcome!

Roman Tsukanov joins the MetaBrainz team

I’m pleased to announce that last week we officially hired Roman Tsukanov, AKA Gentlecat to be a part time developer for MusicBrainz!

Gentlecat has already established himself firmly in our community: Last year he rocked the CritiqueBrainz project for Summer of Code and this summer he rocked AcousticBrainz. And he’s written our shiny new MetaBrainz web site! He is now in the process of learning perl and has started to help Bitmap review existing code reviews. And he has even fixed a couple of issues already. In other words he lives up to his name: To Gentlecat something means to rock it!

I’m quite happy to have such a capable developer participating in MusicBrainz. Welcome to the team Gentlecat!

There will be no autumn 2015 schema change

Schema changes are always a lot of work for us and we end up spending much time preparing for it and then even more time cleaning up/catching up after it. As a result, some critical non-schema change features keep getting pushed back… to the point that we never get to them.

To try and break this cycle, we’re going to skip the Autumn 2015 schema change. Instead we will focus on other tasks such as hosting and community features.

We will resume our schedule with the next planned schema change around 15 May, 2016. After that release we will determine if we want to go ahead with 1 or 2 schema change releases a year.

New MusicBrainz server virtual machine available

Time to check the weather forecast for hell, because it appears to have frozen over! We have finally released a new Virtual Machine that contains all of the MusicBrainz server software and fixed all of the currently outstanding bugs (for the VM).

The new VM now uses a 64-bit architecture and has 80GB of disk-space so it should be much easier to get along with. I tried to ship one VM that has the search indexes build in, but after 3 hours (and increasing time) of trying to export that VM I killed it. If someone has better luck exporting a VM after building search indexes, please let me know. Also, VirtualBox seems to have improved in stability on Mac OS, so we are not going to build a VMWare version of the VM at this time.

All the details for the new VM are on our Server Setup page.

Remember to get your Live Data Feed access token here if you plan to use the replication.

Creating a paid community manager position

I’m slowly sifting through the community feedback comments and I’m increasingly falling behind in my tasks for managing MusicBrainz and all of the projects of the MetaBrainz Foundation. It has become clear that I need help in managing the community and not just help for software engineering or system administration. Thankfully one person came to mind when I started looking for help! Our own Freso has been active in MusicBrainz for over 9 years, so he knows his way around and is used to my abuse:

BDFL on Freso

More importantly, Freso manages to keep his cool when things get heated. He’s attended and supported our summits and he understands MusicBrainz and communities. I’m working with Freso to define his position and determine the appropriate pay level — we’ve moved past the stage where private issues were settled and are now ready to take this job description public.

So far, we’ve created this document to describe this new position. Please take a look — anyone can comment on the document. We’ll take comments and attempt to answer/integrate/respond to your feedback.

Once this job description is done and we’re happy with it, I will need to get board approval to create this new position. Fortunately for us, the new revenue from our new MetaBrainz site will cover the costs of having Freso as a paid member of our team.

Going forward, I plan to publish a list of people who are paid by the MetaBrainz Foundation, including their job descriptions. The above document will then be moved to the MetaBrainz site.

Happy weekend everyone!