The world's most popular open source database
Arjen Lentz is a former Community Relations Manager at MySQL. He lives in Brisbane, Australia.
Behind the software of MySQL AB are of course the people. The MySQL developers, and the many other colleagues around them, are the ones who are making it all happen: new features, bug fixes, support, etc. Some of you may have met a few of them already, either at a previous MySQL Users Conference, or another occasion. As Community Relations Manager, I recently had the privilege of meeting all our developers at an internal company meeting in Malta, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to start some interviews. In this series, I aim to show you the faces of at least some of these people.
For my first interview I chose Oleksandr (Sanja) Byelkin, who has played a key role in the development of some very important MySQL features in the last few years.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. By way of introduction, can you tell us what your job is within MySQL?
Sanja: My job title is "Software Engineer" (a programmer, basically ;-). Coding the Query Cache, Subqueries and now VIEWs are my main tasks.
So most users will have encountered at least one feature that you coded! Which of these features are you the most proud of?
I think VIEWs. But my biggest challenge was subqueries. I can't forget that feeling of "breaking through the mountain with only my bare hands" which is how it felt, working on subqueries in the first weeks.
If you are willing to tell, how old are you? Tell us some more about your background!
I was born in 1972... Counting how old I am now is no simple task for me (am I lazy? :) I finished Donetsk State University (at the time all universities here were state owned). My specialization is mathematics (programmers educated in the old USSR generally have a background in mathematics). I live in east part of Ukraine, Lugansk city. I think the border with Russia is 20-30km from here, at least I can easily reach it by bicycle. I work from home, and I like to work night time when all other habitants of my flat are sleeping.
You have been with MySQL AB for about 3 years now. How do you like working for a virtual (distributed) company like MySQL?
I like this style of work very much. In my opinion it is ideal for programmers: you are free to take a break when you want/need, or work 14 hours a day if you want/need.
I know you're not just a geek. What do you do outside working hours?
Of course family/kids! We have four bicycles in our four member family, so I like to make some trips in the park near us (it looks like a small forest with a river). But as the most advanced cyclist in our family, I make some trips alone or with my friends. My other hobby is photography... my family does not always like this hobby (when I make photos of them) but they do like the results! Also I am saving up for a "real" camera (a DSLR).
People always wonder how someone gets employed by MySQL AB. And I know from my own experience that there are some quirky (but true) entrances into the company! What's your story, and why did you specifically want to work for MySQL AB?
I think it was pure good luck! I knew the brothers Stroganov [Alexey and Andrew, also developers] back from the old FidoNet days, later I did projects with them for a local ISP (using MySQL, by the way). They knew Anna [Monty's wife] who was recruiting peoples for MySQL at that time. I had been using MySQL for some time and was impressed by it as a DBMS, as well as being impressed by the work style of MySQL as a company. I remember that we submitted a bug report and got a patch for it the next day, it appeared to be unbelievable!!!
I'm the community guy, so of course I have to ask you about your involvement in the MySQL community...
I am not great writer or speaker, so I prefer to answer specific questions, or just talk about MySQL with colleagues and friends. When I visit my ex-colleagues or friends they usually show me some problems with MySQL if they have or just ask some news... You know I used to work in banks, and my ex-colleagues work now in banks too and it is very conservative organizations (at least here in Ukraine) and programmers from there unfortunately rarely take part in conferences or forums.
Whom of our developers and non-developers do you think should also be interviewed?
Konstantin Osipov should be an interesting man for a developer interview, and of course "uncle" Sinisa Milevojevic (support).
Excellent. Thank you very much for your time. As a final question, can you provide a nice photo of yourself, but outside of your work environment?
That is hard question, because the camera is usually in my hands! :-) [but Sanja did find one]