Geeky Friday: UNIX goes to 1234567890, Web 2.0 goes non-RDBMS

tuxFor the truly geeky, a cause to celebrate! Our calendars say today is Friday the 13th. But to my Mac (OSX) and other UNIX-derived computers, on which time is measured internally as the number of seconds since January 1, 1970, today is designated at something over 1.2 billion [seconds]. Later today it will be 1234567890 — here’s the running countdown if you are anxiously awaiting the moment.

On a unrelated note, except that it’s also rather geeky, is a trend in how databases are being structured that a cloud computing buddy of mine recently tuned me in to. This article does an excellent job of simply describing why some of the most prominent database projects in the realm of cloud computing are moving away from traditional relational database management systems (RDBMS) — think SQL queries, normalized tables, and all that jazz — and towards less standardized, more XML-ish “key/value” data structures. The brief wikipedia article entitled Document-oriented Database also offers some simply-stated information on this topic.

UPDATE: To improve scalability the social media and networking web application FriendFeed has started using a sort of a hybrid database that involves storing JSON (“a lightweight computer data interchange format”) objects within a simplified MySQL data structure. They’re pretty happy with their results, which speak louder than words. But as my (same) cloud computing buddy points out, this still falls short of achieving the goals of non-RDBMS databases such as CouchDB: “if you’re taking a relational DB and shoving JSON objects into it, you have to start asking yourself if there’s a more efficient way to store that data.”

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