If you have been reading Planet MySQL over April you will have seen many blog posts on the new features in the MySQL 5.6 (currently a development release). I developed several patches that are in 5.6 including the 'Slave_last_heartbeat' status variable to show the time of the last replication heartbeat received. One of the cool new features I developed which I am most proud of is the option to remotely backup your binary logs without a MySQL slave:
Remote Binlog Back-up
Enhances operational efficiency by using the replication channel to create real-time back-ups from the binary log.
By adding arawflag, the binlog is written out to remote back-up servers, without having a MySQL database instance translating it into SQL statements, and without the DBA needing SSH access to each master server.
Here is a quick story as to why I developed it and how it can help people.
Back then I was a MySQL Support Engineer and a customer asked if it was possible to retrieve binary logs from a remote server in real time without needing a MySQL slave using the blackhole engine. The customer had many servers that they wanted to backup into just a few backup servers. Unfortunately at the time there was no such tool, but within 24 hours I had hacked a patch into mysqlbinlog to provide this. The patch had bugs and missed a lot of features back then but the proof of concept was good enough to show that a real patch could be made.
The new 'raw mode' option to mysqlbinlog can connect to a remote MySQL server, retrieve the binary logs and can continue retrieving them until an error occurs. So it is possible to have a backup of your binary logs up to the second that your primary data centre bursts into flames.
You can read up more about how to use this in the MySQL manual.