Start Your Halloween Right by Watching Elephants Pulverize Giant Pumpkins

Everybody has their own Halloween tradition, whether it’s taking chocolate from strangers or doing shots of vile, candy-corn flavored vodka. But the elephant family at the Oregon Zoo’s annual “Squishing of the Squash” its hands-down my favorite.

There’s something innately satisfying about four ton animals destroying half ton vegetables. And I think it’s fair to say the elephants enjoyed themselves, too.

via Gizmodo
Start Your Halloween Right by Watching Elephants Pulverize Giant Pumpkins

Every Linux Geek Needs To Know Sed and Awk. Here’s Why…


Two of the most criminally under-appreciated Linux utilities are Sed and Awk. Although admittedly they can seem a bit arcane, if you ever have to make repetitive changes to large pieces of code or text, or if you ever have to analyze some text, Sed and Awk are invaluable. So, what are they? How are they used? And how, when combined together, do they make it easier to process text? What Is Sed? Sed was developed in 1971 at Bell Labs, by legendary computing pioneer Lee E. McMahon. The name stands for stream editor, and that’s kinda what it does….

Read the full article: Every Linux Geek Needs To Know Sed and Awk. Here’s Why…

via MakeUseOf
Every Linux Geek Needs To Know Sed and Awk. Here’s Why…

Download every ‘Tribes’ game for free

Fancy yourself a fan of playing awesome PC shooters online? Boy howdy, do I have a story for you: Developer Hi-rez Studios has released every game in its Tribes series for free on its website as part of the franchise’s 21st birthday celebration. That means everything from Starseige: Tribes to the free-to-play Tribes: Ascend is available right now, gratis. And you don’t even have to buy it a drink — the party’s on Hi-rez’s dime! As if you had any big plans for this weekend anyway.

Via: Dave Oshry (Twitter)

Source: Tribes Universe

via Engadget
Download every ‘Tribes’ game for free

Watch the First Footage of the Planet’s Most Elusive Whale

Watch the First Footage of the Planet’s Most Elusive Whale

An international team of marine biologists has made the first-ever field observations of rare Omura’s whales—one of the least known species of whales in the world — while working off the coast of Madagascar.

Omura’s whales are so rare that scientists are not sure exactly how many exist.

“Over the years, there have been a small handful of possible sightings of Omura’s whales, but nothing that was confirmed,” noted lead author Salvatore Cerchio in a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution release. “They appear to occur in remote regions and are difficult to find at sea because they are small—they range in length from approximately 33 to 38 feet—and do not put up a prominent blow.”

Watch the First Footage of the Planet’s Most Elusive Whale

Cerchio, who works out of the New England Aquarium (NEAQ), says that all previous knowledge came from eight specimens of Omura’s whales taken in Japanese scientific whaling off the Solomon and Keeling Islands, along with a couple of strandings in Japan.

After a possible sighting near Madagascar in 2011, the team decided to relocate their efforts to the region. It proved to be an excellent move, resulting in the two year study, the details of which now appear at Royal Society Open Science.

Watch the First Footage of the Planet’s Most Elusive Whale

Five different individuals

“This is the first definitive evidence and detailed descriptions of Omura’s whales in the wild and part of what makes this work particularly exciting,” he says.

The researchers observed 44 groups and were able to collect skin biopsies from 18 adult whales. These samples were sent to Northern Michigan University for DNA analysis, the results of which confirmed the species as being distinct. Up until recently, some scientists thought that Omura’s whales were actually Bryde’s whale.

Watch the First Footage of the Planet’s Most Elusive Whale

Cerchio’s team documented various physical and behavioral characteristics of the whale.

They’re mostly dark gray, but have a prominent white patch on their right lower jaw. They lunge feed, which means they subsist on a steady diet of zooplankton. The presence of so many mothers with young calves suggests that the study site was at or near a breeding habitat where females give birth. The team was also able to make recordings of Omura’s whale song, which appears to be a male-limit trait (which isn’t unusual among whales, including sperm whales).

Read the entire study at Royal Society Open Science: “Omura’s whales (Balaenoptera omurai) off northwest Madagascar: ecology, behaviour and conservation needs”.

[ Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution ]

Email the author at and follow him at @dvorsky. All images by Salvatore Cerchio.

via Gizmodo
Watch the First Footage of the Planet’s Most Elusive Whale

Open-sourcing Pinterest MySQL management tools

In the past, we’ve shared why you should love MySQL and how it helped Pinterest scale via sharding. At Oracle Open World today, we announced that we’re open-sourcing the vast majority of our automation that maintains our MySQL infrastructure. In this post, we’ll detail our MySQL environment, the tools used to manage it and how you can implement them to automate your MySQL infrastructure.
Basics of MySQL at Pinterest
We’ve historically used MySQL to store some of our most important data, including Pins, boards, image metadata and Pinners’ credentials.
Recently, we’ve added the following use cases:
PinLater: Thanks in part to kernel optimizations, MySQL has replaced Redis and is becoming the only supported backend for our asynchronous job execution engine.
Zen: MySQL has joined HBase as a supported backend for our graph storage engine.
For all of the MySQL use cases at Pinterest, the environment is identical from an administrative perspective:
A single master with one or two slaves: Historically MySQL was used with multiple writable instances in a replica set. This topology is error prone and has been simplified to a single master with one or more slaves.
Zookeeper provides service discovery: The contract between the administrative tools and the MySQL applications is ZooKeeper. With few exceptions, ZooKeeper provides clients with database hostnames, usernames and passwords.
The lifecycle of a MySQL instance in the cloud
MySQL servers at Pinterest are launched, live and die with only the rarest of configuration changes. Upgrading kernels, MySQL versions and any other changes that would require a restart of the database are never done in-place. Instead, these actions are always performed through server replacements and failovers/slave promotions as needed. This choice has greatly simplified our automation by removing the need to manage intermediate state. We call this mindset “Operational Buddhism,” meaning we don’t get attached to our servers, because they might be gone tomorrow.
One of our most important scripts is In the simplest case, the only required argument to is the hostname of a failed slave. The existing instance is examined, all required parameters for a new server are computed and then the new server is launched. For other changes, such as MySQL upgrades, hardware upgrades/downgrades and datacenter migrations, there are optional arguments.
After the new server has booted and received its initial base configuration from our provisioning system, a cron job will notice that the data directory is empty and run Based on information from our service directory (ZooKeeper), this script will attempt to find a database backup, restore it, set up replication and add the new MySQL instance to the directory. Like, accepts many optional arguments for non-standard uses.
If a MySQL master server requires replacement, the script must be run to promote the primary slave to master. This script deals with either living or dead initial masters, and then modifies MySQL replication topology and updates the service directory.
After a server has been removed from ZooKeeper, it’s subject to a retirement queue system. This system has several steps that lead to eventual termination of a server:
Servers that do not exist in ZooKeeper are considered to be not in use, and will have several status counters reset.
After a day, the servers will be inspected to see if any activity has caused the status counters to increment. If the counters have incremented, the retirement process is aborted. If the counters have not incremented, the MySQL instance is sent a shutdown command.
After another day, the server is subject to termination if its database has not been restarted.
Other utilities
We’ve built a variety of other utilities that we’re also open-sourcing: This script provides administrators a quick view of what’s in production (we define “in production” as “in ZooKeeper”) in a format that’s easy to use for shell scripting. This is our primary backup system for MySQL. These backups are used by mysql_restore_xtrabackup for building new MySQL instances. We backup MySQL replication logs in order to perform point-in-time recoveries in the case where all servers in a replica set are lost. This script manages our database users. It’s one of our oldest bits of automation and one of our most limited. It fulfills our needs for the time being but sooner or later will need to be significantly expanded. This script builds MySQL configuration files based on global defaults and then overrides for workload type, hardware and MySQL version. Several example configuration files are included. and Every day, we run a pt-checksum against a subset of the shards in order to determine if master and slave are out of sync and, if so, by how much. (Most of the time, our replication drift is zero or very near zero.)  The script runs the checksums and stores the results. The script will retrieve all recent checksum results and display the data in a user-friendly manner.
And a bunch more!
Not a panacea
These tools are tightly integrated into our service discovery mechanism and would likely require moderate modification of the code that reads and writes from service discovery. Unlike other technologies we’ve open-sourced, there are some legacy limitations to these utilities, such as the lack of support for more than two slaves. It’s our hope that these tools are useful to others that wish to create automation for their MySQL infrastructure.
Human efficiency
As a result of the effectiveness of our tooling, we’re able to maintain the MySQL environment with hundreds of terabyte data with less than two dedicated engineers.
The Code
Our public code repository is now live and can be found with our other open-sourced projects on GitHub at
Acknowledgements: Ernie Souhrada also contributed to the MySQL management tools.
Tags: infra, opensource
via Planet MySQL
Open-sourcing Pinterest MySQL management tools

Everything We Know About Game Of Thrones Season 6 So Far

Everything We Know About Game Of Thrones Season 6 So Far

The next season of Game of Thrones will be unique—a show that’s been so heavily dependent on its book source material will suddenly be venturing out into unknown territory, with no more books to adapt. What’s going to happen next? Here’s everything we’ve been able to find out.

Suffice to say, going in, that this post will be jam packed with Spoilers and speculation for Game of Thrones season six—as well as tons of details from the A Song of Ice and Fire book series the show is based on. If you don’t want to know more about either, consider this your due warning. Turn back, before it’s too late!

So, About Jon Snow…

Everything We Know About Game Of Thrones Season 6 So Far

One of the biggest mysteries of the new season—and the source of many, many, many posts about the length of Kit Harington’s hair—has been whether or not Jon Snow would return after his seemingly fatal stabbing at the hands of his Night’s Watch brothers during the finale of season 5.

Despite what members of the cast and crew have said ever since, Jon Snow will be returning for the show: and kicking off a major new storyline for the character that has huge ramifications for the rest of the series. We first heard back in June that Kit Harington had been spotted in Belfast ahead of the start of filming for the sixth season, and there’s been much speculation since, but it’s only been more recently that we’ve seen solid proof that Jon is returning.

That solid proof also revealed a major twist—in that it appears Jon will no longer be part of the Night’s Watch, and is instead playing a part in a huge battle to wrestle control of the North of Westeros out of the hands of the Boltons. Kit Harington has been spotted filming scenes dressed in the leather armor of House Stark for a huge battle in Saintfield, Northern Irelend, which includes hundreds of extras dressed as Wildlings and soldiers representing the different houses of the North, Fans have speculated that the change of heart—and release from his oath to the Watch—may be thanks to a resurrection from the Red Priestess Melisandre. Maybe now that Jon has already died, he’s fulfilled his oath, and in his new life, is free to do as he pleases.

A newer rumor even posits that Jon will be joined in his quest by an unlikely ally: After Stannis perished in the last season, Ser Davos Seaworth apparently will choose to stand with Jon in the battle. Backing this up, actor Liam Cunningham was spotted at a wrap party with the crew following the completion of the battle. The battle is purportedly a major, major part of the season—Sophie Turner, a.k.a. Sansa Stark, has also been spotted in Saintfield for filming of the battle, and the scene will feature some big casualties, including two known characters being flayed and burned alive by Ramsay Bolton on massive crosses, and appearance by the Wildling giant Wun-Wun. Suffice to say, this is probably one of the most important scenes we know about in the season so far.

Over the course of the show, Jon has been shown wrestling with his duty to the realm as a Night’s Watchman and his duty to his family, so him turning his back on the Watch and throwing his lot in to the ongoing battle for control in Westeros seems like it’s going to be a major storyline in season six. But that’s not the only big rumor swirling around with ties to Jon…


Everything We Know About Game Of Thrones Season 6 So Far

The Castillo de Zafra. Image by Wikimedia user Borjaanimal, shared under Creative Commons.

This year Game of Thrones has been doing plenty of filming in Spain, but one location has had fans talking more than any other: the Castillo de Zafra in Guadalajara. Ever since the striking location was announced for filming, fans have drawn comparisons between the tower and an infamous location in Westeros, the Tower of Joy in Dorne.

Before the events of A Game of Thrones, there was a great civil war in Westeros called Robert’s Rebellion—when Robert Baratheon rebelled against the ruling Targaryens and eventually took the throne. This was sparked by the Targaryen prince, Rhaegar, capturing Lyanna Stark, the sister of Ned Stark. Lyanna was kept in the Tower of Joy, until Ned and a band of Knights attempted to rescue her—only to find that she had died. But a prevailing fan theory also posits that as well as finding his dead sister at the Tower, Ned also discovered her newly born son—the product of a dalliance between Rhaegar and Lyanna—and took him home under the guise of a Bastard child of Ned’s: Jon Snow.

There’s never been confirmation of Jon’s true parentage in either the books or the show: it’s one of the biggest mysteries surrounding Game of Thrones as a whole. But filming at Castillo de Zafra for what appears to be a flashback sequence to Robert’s rebellion may end up confirming it—recent filming reports claimed a fight between swordsmen took place there, including what appeared to be a young Ned Stark, the legendary knight Ser Arthur Dayne (who’s been rumored to be joining the cast for a while now) and Howland Reed, the father of Jojen and Meera (those kids who were traveling with Bran and Hodor).

Interestingly, there’s recently been a further twist: Actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright, who plays Bran Stark, was also spotted near the Castillo, indicating he was filming there—so rather than a straight flashback, as the show did with Cersei Lannister’s youth, it seems this sequence will be a vision watched by Bran while he hangs out with the Three-Eyed Raven beyond the wall. Bran’s presence is also a hint that this is an important sequence related to the Starks, lending further credence to the notion that this is in fact the incident at the Tower of Joy.

Meanwhile, In King’s Landing

Although events in King’s Landing were a major part of the last season, we know surprisingly little about the ramifications of Cersei’s “walk of shame” and what happens after she’s freed from the clutches of the Sparrows—but we do know Season six will see the Sparrows relinquish their other royal captive: Margaery Tyrell.

A huge scene filmed in Girona involved hundreds of extras dressed up as the soldiers of House Tyrell—led by King Tommen, Mace Tyrell and, surprisingly, Jaime Lannister. The armed force apparently storms King’s Landing’s Sept to take Margaery from the High Sparrow by force, only to find her willingly set free by the Faith Militant—it’s rumored that Margaery is freed because she’s become a devout follower of the Faith, but it’s unknown if that’s true or just a trick on the part of Margaery to see herself free.

We don’t really know much more about King’s Landing, but we do know where Jaime Lannister will head next, presumably after this incident with the Tyrells…

Return to Riverrun

Everything We Know About Game Of Thrones Season 6 So Far

To book readers, this is actually an older plotline that many of us thought would be skipped over by the show—it appeared mainly in the fourth book, A Feast for Crows—but now Jaime will indeed head to the Riverlands to stamp out the last remnants of Robb Stark’s rebellion, in the form of the House Tully, holed up at Riverrun.

Both Clive Russell and Tobias Menzies will reprise their roles as Brynden and Edmure Tully respectively, taking part in the Lannister siege of Riverrun as it’s broken by Jaime. But the Kingslayer will be joined by two unlikely, but familiar faces. Jerome Flynn, who plays Bronn, has been sighted filming scenes in Corbet, Northern Ireland with Jaime actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, which is unsurprising given Jaime and Bronn’s Dornish escapades in Season 5. But another interesting sighting in Corbet was Gwendoline Christie filming in the area—leading to speculation that Brienne of Tarth could reunite with Jaime.

There’s also been much wilder speculation about two other characters who could show up in the Riverlands—an Irish-based Thrones twitter account recently alleged that the long-anticipated Lady Stoneheart (the magically revived and vengeful body of Catelyn Stark) would finally appear in the season, commanding an army seemingly larger than the Brotherhood without Banners she leads in the books:

It’s not been confirmed, but with the show shining a major spotlight on the Riverlands, Lady Stoneheart’s base of operations in the books, it could be possible.

The other potential character alleged to show up in the Riverlands is Arya Stark, seemingly abandoning her training at the House of Black and White to return to her homeland. There’s not been much about her appearance there other than a supposed meeting with Jaime Lannister, and no sightings of Maisie Williams on location (she has, however, been seen filming scenes that appear to come from released preview chapters of the much anticipated seventh book in the series, The Winds of Winter, which take place back in Braavos), it’s best to treat both this and Lady Stoneheart’s alleged appearances as unconfirmed for now.

The Greyjoys

Everything We Know About Game Of Thrones Season 6 So Far

Aside from Theon’s capture and transformation into Reek by Ramsay Bolton, House Greyjoy has largely been out of the picture in Game of Thrones for a few seasons. But in Season 6, they’re apparently returning in a big way, adaption a major storyline from the books known as the “Kingsmoot”—a gathering of Ironborn captains to decide the next King of the Iron Islands, following the death of Balon Greyjoy.

In the books, several characters threw in their hats at the Kingsmoot, including Theon’s sister Asha. known as Yara in the show—but ultimately Balon’s brother Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk has allegedly been cast in the role) is crowned king, after he appears at the Kingsmoot with a magical horn that can allegedly control dragons. A large scene filmed in Ballintoy, Northern Ireland, featured plenty of extras as Ironborn, as well as Euron and Victarion Greyjoy (another brother of Balon) earlier this year, aerial footage of which you can see below:

Interestingly, that footage was paired with reports that another Grejoy actor was spotted filming: Theon himself, Alfie Allen. Last seen jumping off the walls of Winterfell with Sansa Stark, it’s unknown what happens to Theon between Winterfell and the Iron Islands: but it seems like he’ll be reuniting with his sister and the rest of his family in season six.

Keeping Up With The Khalasar

Everything We Know About Game Of Thrones Season 6 So Far

It’s not just the characters based in Westeros that we’ve learned a lot about already—recently there’s been a lot of talk about what happened to Daenerys after she found herself surrounded by Dothraki at the end of Season five. It turns out that Daenerys might find herself in the command of an even mightier force than she’s ever had before.

There’s been much talk of the filming at Bardenas Real Natural Park in Navarre, Spain, which featured 1,200 extras as members of a Dothraki Khalasar being led by Daenerys (presumably, the same group that found her). But it’s what happens after that that is interesting—Daenerys, tailed by Jorah Mormont and Daario Nahaaris, is brought to a huge meeting of multiple Dothraki Khalasars at a vast Dothraki encampment… and proceeds to rally them to her cause.

How does she do that? Well, it involves Drogon, her pet dragon: the creature allegedly burns down a massive Dothraki temple, and Daenerys emerges out of the fire in a similar manner to the birth of the Dragons at the very end of the show’s first season. Daenerys will them seemingly take that army back to Mereen—Emilia Clarke has been spotted filming with extras wearing both Dothraki gear and the armor of the Unsullied.

She’ll need all the help she can get: Meereen is apparently in dire straits, with famine tearing through the city (leading to Tyrion apparently hallucinating an appearance of Shae in the face of a starving woman). At some point Tyrion is approached by a Red Priestess offering her help keeping the citizens of Mereen loyal to Daenerys—and the slavers of Yunkai and Meereen will apparently join forces to assault the city, a plot point prominent in A Dance with Dragons that the show had previously skipped.

And Much, Much More

Despite everything above, there’s still so much we don’t know about the Game of Thrones season 6—from major characters like Cersei Lannister, to events at big locations like the Wall and the lands beyond it. There’ll be secrets and details we don’t discover until the show actually airs: but rest assured, if you’re still hankering for Game of Thrones spoilers, you can stay tuned to io9 in the months leading up to Season 6’s arrival.

via Gizmodo
Everything We Know About Game Of Thrones Season 6 So Far