I suck as a sytem administrator (I): Importance of lowercase / uppercase in MySQL

At the beginning, most entrepreneurs have to do a little bit of everything and I’m not an exception. This includes being the sysadmin of my dedicated server (where I host both my own sites: the portal and the (under construction) code generation center).

Let me tell you, even if I have a degree and a PhD in Computer Science I suck at this (can I say, in my discharge that I specialized on the management/information systems program?).

The last example (I hope I’ll find the time to comment on some of my previous screw-ups later on) happened yesterday, when working on the configuration of my wordpress installation. I suddenly realized that category names for blog posts were not showing up. In fact, I was able to create new categories (and they were correctly stored in the database) but then the name attribute would not show up (but the others would).

I spent five hours trying to fix the problem. I tried many things (including reinstalling wordpress, adding error reporting plugins to see if I could locate the source of the error,…) until I finally saw that the database table storing the category information in wordpress (wp_terms) had the name of the “name” column in uppercase (still don’t know why/how this happened). After changing the name to lowercase all problems were solved. Am I the only one that didn’t know that for MySQL this distinction was so important? (I’ve to confess I didn’t even know MySQL had a parameter to control how to interpret this).

I hate wasting my time with these stupid things but I guess it is part of the work. I hope I’m able to outsorce the administration of the system to a real sysadmin sooner than later!

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