Tom Kincaid



Tag:   postgresql   
Category:   Interviews   
Interviewed by: Andreas Scherbaum

PostgreSQL is the World’s most advanced Open Source Relational Database. The interview series “PostgreSQL Person of the Week” presents the people who make the project what it is today. Read all interviews here.

Please tell us about yourself, and where you are from.

My name is Tom Kincaid. I live outside Boston MA. I was born here and spent the majority of my life around here.

Tom Kincaid

Tom Kincaid

How do you spend your free time? What are your hobbies?

I like to ride my bike, hike in the mountains in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest and read. There are 48 peaks over 4000 feet. I have done 45. A foot injury requiring surgery has kept me on the sidelines a while.

Any Social Media channels of yours we should be aware of?

Last book you read? Or a book you want to recommend to readers?

I just finished reviewing a book that will be published in April. You can find it here.

And my review of it here.

Any favorite movie, or show?

Movie: Forrest Gump. It made me laugh hysterically through some very sad moments in the United States history. I have never laughed so hard and felt so sad at the same time.

How would your ideal weekend look like?

Hiking with a friend, dinner with my family and going to a Boston Celtics game.

What’s still on your bucket list?

I want to visit all 50 states in the US. I have been to 43. I use an application called “been” to keep track. Here is what is missing for me: West Virginia, Alaska, Mississippi, New Mexico, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Nebraska. I do believe I will make it. I will be on vacation in West Virginia in May.

What is the best advice you ever got?

From my Father:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight

Proverbs 3:5-6

When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?

I joined EDB in 2010. I was able to learn Postgres from many people including: Robert Haas, Bruce Momjian, Jim Mlodgenski, Korry Douglas and Vibhor Kumar.

Do you remember which version of PostgreSQL you started with?

Postgres 8.4.

I studied Math Education and Computer Science at Boston University.

What other databases are you using? Which one is your favorite?

I only use Postgres and variants of Postgres. Postgres is my favorite database.

I am not contributing to any open source project at the moment. I spend a fair amount of time helping other people use Postgres.

How do you contribute to PostgreSQL?

Probably my biggest contribution is that I run the Boston Postgres Users Group. I have been doing that for 10+ years.

What is your favorite PostgreSQL extension?

I really like pgstattuple. Not technically an extension but extremely valuable in certain situations I find.

What is the most annoying PostgreSQL thing you can think of? And any chance to fix it?

Transaction ID Wrap around. I think it will be with us for a while longer.

What is the feature you like most in the latest PostgreSQL version?

Not in the latest version but my favorite feature since Postgres 11 is runtime partition pruning. I saw the author work so hard on it and I think it is an important and little known feature.

Adding to that, what feature/mechanism would you like to see in PostgreSQL? And why?

I would love to see Horizontal Scale tackled in Community Postgres somehow.

Could you describe your PostgreSQL development toolbox?

I mostly use VIM. I don’t do a lot of development these days. When I do, I write client side code in Java and various little hackeries in C.

Which skills are a must have for a PostgreSQL developer/user?

Depends what you mean by a developer and a user. If by developer you mean somebody who contributes fixes and features to the code base, then you need to know the C programming language very well. You also probably need to know SQL and have a good understanding of database internals.

As a user, you should really have basic computer skills, be comfortable at the Linux command line and generally want to learn.

Which PostgreSQL conferences do you visit? Do you submit talks?

I have attended just about all US conferences and occasionally I have attended PGConf.EU . I typically submit two conference talks a year.

Do you think Postgres has a high entry barrier?

No, however I would like it to be easier. At the moment, I feel like too much Linux knowledge is required for certain elements of Postgres.

What is your advice for people who want to start PostgreSQL developing - as in, contributing to the project. Where and how should they start?

I would start by joining the hackers mailing list. Find something that interests you and volunteer to test a patch.

Do you think PostgreSQL will be here for many years in the future?

Definitely. You can track Postgres continued growth on DBEngines. It has won the DBEngines database of the year based on growth metrics 3 of the past 4 years. Every year more people are involved and more companies are moving to Postgres.

For details please see here and look at the right most column for annual growth relative to other databases.

Would you recommend Postgres for business, or for side projects?

Yes for both. You can’t beat the price and it has very advanced functionality. I know from personal experience that Banks, Healthcare institutions and Military operations all over the world use it with great success.

Are you reading the -hackers mailinglist? Any other list?

I read -hackers and -performance lists.

What other places do you hang out?

Reddit, Facebook

Which other Open Source projects are you involved or interested in?

I am very interested in OpenJDK. However, I can’t say that I am involved.

Anything else you like to add?

Thanks for doing this Postgres Person of the Week.