MySQL [ERROR] Invalid (old?) table or database name

After upgrading to MySQL 5, one of my databases appeared empty even though the MyISAM tables existed in /var/lib/mysql/database-name. I found this error in the mysql log file in /var/log/mysqld.log:

090425 23:10:52 [ERROR] Invalid (old?) table or database name 'database-name'

Turns out that MySQL 5 doesn’t like database names that contain a hyphen. In the mysql directory, I see that it created a second directory for the database, but with the hyphen replaced with ‘@002d’.

drwx------  2 mysql mysql     4096 Apr 25 23:10 database-name
drwx------  2 mysql mysql     4096 Apr 24 00:30 database@002dname

To resolve that I decided to replace the hyphen with an underscore. I stopped mysql, renamed /var/lib/mysql/database-name to /var/lib/mysql/database_name, and then ran this SQL to update the permissions:

UPDATE mysql.db SET Db = 'database_name' WHERE Db = 'database\-name';

I could then see the tables using mysql from the command line. From there, I just updated the setting for the application to use the new name, and everything worked out find.

What is in a gclid?

When you use auto-tagging with your Adwords campaign, all request that are generated by Google Adwords contain a ?glcid parameter in the Request. Adwords uses this to pass some information to Analytics for traffic analysis.

I was curious, about what data the gclid parameter contained. My guess was that it contained some encoded or encrypted information regarding the origin of the click, so I did some analysis on the clicks that I received. Some discussion about it was available on this post.

I ended up writing a quick PHP script that parses through an Apache log file. It finds requests that contain a gclid and then produces a report of which letters occur in which positions of the gclid.

The script is available for download here, and it generates a report like this:

Found 32507 appropriate lines
Character  1 [ 1] C
Character  2 [ 8] IJKLMNOP
Character  3 [32] -CDGHKLOPSTWX_abefijmnqruvyz2367
Character  4 [64] -CDEFG0ABHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ_abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz123456789
Character  5 [32] -_0ghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz123456789
Character  6 [32] -IJKLMNOPYZ_abcdefopqrstuv456789
Character  7 [32] -CDGHKLOPSTWX_abefijmnqruvyz2367
Character  8 [64] -ABCDEFG0HIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ_abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz123456789
Character  9 [32] 0-_ghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz123456789
Character 10 [ 4] JZp5
Character 11 [ 8] IMQUYcgk
Character 12 [ 1] C
Character 13 [ 1] F
Character 14 [10] QRSUWYZcde
Character 15 [61] -ABCEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ_ab0cdefghiklmnopqrstuvwxy123456789
Character 16 [63] -ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOQRSTUVWXYZ_abcde0fghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz123456789
Character 17 [17] DFGHIQabgiknrsx57
Character 18 [ 4] AQgw
Character 19 [ 1] o
Character 20 [ 1] d
Character 21 [64] -ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ_abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwx0yz123456789
Character 22 [32] ABCDEFGHQRSTUVWXghijklmnwyz0x123
Character 23 [64] -ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ_abcdefghijklmnopqrstuv0wxyz123456789
Character 24 [64] -ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ_abcdefghijklmnopqrs0tuvwxyz123456789
Character 25 [62] 0-ABCDEFHIJKLMOPQRSTUVWXYZ_abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz123456789
Character 26 [ 4] AQgw

This makes it clear that the parameter has some structure, but I’m still no closer to determining what it contains. Counting up the unique values, it would seem that they have about 95 bits of information available, which might be enough room to store everything it would need to know about the search that created it. Based on the reporting details in Analytics, I would presume that it somehow contains at least the following information:

  • Campaign (id)
  • Keyword (id)
  • Ad Variation (id)
  • Position

I did some research by clicking an ad multiple times and examining the glcids for those:


I noticed that most of the characters which use 32-64 characters vary quite a bit except for character #9, which was always an 8, and character #10 which was a ‘p’ for the first two clicks, and then a ‘5’ for all subsequent clicks. That likely has some significance, but I’m out of time for playing with it for now.

Hopefully the script and this basic analysis might be of use for somebody else to use in digging into it further.

One other thought that I had is that the data (or each field) is somehow encrypted and when you ‘link’ your Analytics account to your Adwords account it shares the decryption key so that it can get at the detail.

SpamAssassin + Postfix to Deliver Spam to an Alternate Mailbox

A fairly simple method of having postfix send messages through SpamAssassin, and then delivering the messages identified as spam to a separate mailbox:

Configure SpamAssassin as normal in

smtp      inet  n       -       -       -       -       smtpd -o content_filter=spamassassin
2525      inet  n       -       -       -       -       smtpd -o content_filter=spamassassin
spamassassin unix -     n       n       -       -       pipe user=spamd argv=/usr/bin/spamc -f -e    /usr/sbin/sendmail -oi -f ${sender} ${recipient}

Configure Spamassassin to log the status and score in a new header by adding this to /etc/spamassassin/

## Add a spamassassin header to all messages so that we can filter them out
add_header all Status _YESNO_, score=_SCORE_ required=_REQD_ tests=_TESTS_ autolearn=_AUTOLEARN_ version=_VERSION_

And then configure postfix to look for that header and deliver it to an alternate mailbox:


header_checks = regexp:/etc/postfix/header_checks


/^X-Spam-Status: Yes/ REDIRECT

Now your messages identified as spam will be sent to so that you can occasionally check for false positives.

Note that there is more work that goes into setting up SpamAssassin, but there are plenty of howtos around for getting that configured.

The Coolest use of Video Advertising I Have Ever Seen

This is the coolest thing. I almost closed the video before I saw my name in it.

Here is the video

What a brilliant advertising scheme and likely the future of advertising. Somebody deserves a raise. If you want to create something cool like that you can get some Conference AV rentals to create your advertising. You can obviously substitute your own name in the URL and the video will have your name in it.

Upgrading an OpenVZ CentOS 5.2 guest to 5.3

Doing a simple ‘yum update’ on a CenOS 5.2 guest server would go through the process of downloading all of the updates, but would only install libgcc and then quit suddenly without any mention of a problem.

With a little bit of experimenting, I came up with a process to get it to upgrade correctly. By updating some of the essential packages first, it somehow convinced the process to work:

# yum upgrade libgcc
# yum update yum
# yum update rpm
# yum update