Friday, January 27, 2006

TRIM yourself an SOA Repository?

Joe McKendrick has a great post on how system architecture these days is in a state of flux - there are a collection of web services floating around, sort of talking to each other, sort of not - the dream of a streamlined, service oriented architecture seems to be still largely that. He suggests that the secret lies in the repository - in having a central design-time asset where organisations can build out from a single repository to a SOA.

Now, I find this interesting for several reasons, but mainly because since I started with TOWER Software, four years ago, I've built several different business systems, and I've never buit a relational db store for any of them - I've alwys just used TRIM Context as the repository. Sure it's designed to manage enterprise content - but that can include custom designed content types that map to a business object, just as easily as it includes a document, or some web content.

With the web service interface, and the new ICE framework for building interfaces, it's easier than ever to build an entire functional business that attaches to one repository - which means that separate systems are built as services with a common back end.

It's not exactly the grand unification that we were promised at the dawn of the SOA era, but it does mean that the loosely coupled services are in existence, and it also means that you can get in step with the DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) way of thinking - security, access control, and display logic are all taken care of by TRIM, and you can design your services to be focussed solely on business logic.

I think that repostiories are going to be an interesting area to watch - and I suspect that at some point in the next few years, some industry analyst will announce the "Death of the relational database..."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Oz as, mate!

G'day. It's Australia day!

Australians aren't the most patriotic of people. As a general rule, Australia Day usually means sitting around in the hot , hot sun, drinking beer and listening to triple J's hottest 100 countdown on the radio. Today for me was no exception. And, now that it's all done, and I've had a suitable amount of beer, I have to ask one question of my country:

What was that all about exactly?

That Bernard Fanning tune that came in at number 1 is boring and simple and dull, and I'm ever so sure that it's not the best song ever released last year, by any conceivable metric.
I mean, really, it sounds like a weak covers band tune:

"Okay, now we're going to play an orginal song..."
"This one was written by our guitar player, Bernard..."
"Play KHE-SAN!"
Anyway, you get the point. I would rather that any of the other top ten tunes was number one. I mean, really Australia - the powderfinger emperor has no clothes...

On another, more salient and important point, Australia Day 10 years ago, saw my wife and I preparing for our wedding. We affectionately refer to it as "Bondcrete Day". When we arrived at My dad's house in Congo, he was busy applying a fixitive to the concrete floors in his new house. Ali and I spent the evening scrubbing the floor, and applying Bondcrete, armed with a skateboard, a paintbrusdh and a broom - resulting in some severe back pain the next morning. Needless to say, everything ended up going outstandingly well the next day, and we've stayed married ever since.

So, happy Bondcrete day to you all!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bad, Lazy Blogger

When I left to travel this cute little world we all inhabit and inhibit, I decided that I would post all my adventures as soon as they happened. But, I'm so busy and jetlagged, that I haven't really wanted to post anything. So, here's a preview of coming attractions - posts that I've composed in my head and never got around to posting.

  • The NA TUF Conference, and how cool it was
  • The drive across the state of Florida, down Aligator Alley
  • The Miami Hotel that was in Goldfinger, that we stayed at
  • Crazy Americans, and how weird that country can be
  • Kris, Mel and Craig, and how they all rule for different reasons
  • Trying to get into the Miami Airport Lounge
  • The Drive with the crazy russian immigrant
  • The Cantley House Hotel, or how a giant cat nearly killed me
  • A random departure to Bristol
  • The Hitchock Rules

So, yeah, there's much to catch up on. Stay tuned for more ranting and general silliness.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Florida Keys

I arrived in Florida today for the TOWER Software Trim User Forum and Partner Conferences, which are being held back to back this week. I'm going to be giving a series of talks about ice, our new web client, and discussing how people can get the most out of it with their ECM deployments. Florida is amazing - lots of water, and nice and warm. The view from my hotel is pretty impressive. I'll post some pictures later...

Washington DC was great - Thanks to my old mate Greenie from back home, and his lovely wife Candy, Woofy II and I got to see all the sights, including the Lincoln Memorial, and share a little bit of the American Dream out in Herndon, a neighborhood just west of DC.

We drank beer, Watched an NFL football game on the big screen, and even went to see the Washington Capitals play Ice Hockey against the Florida Panthers, with all the Australians we could find. It's funny the ex-pat thing. Out of the 11 of us, there was only one American...Ice Hockey is one really bizarre game for the uninitiated, like me. It seems like they stop the game every 3 minutes for something. Sometimes it seems like they stop the game just so the crowd can sing a song. And about the only rule I could pick up on was that if you put the little puck thingy in the net, then that is what's called a 'goal'. Apart from that, it seems pretty much anything goes. You can just whack the crap out of each other, catch the puck with your hands, stop it with your feet, and punch whoever you like.

Anyway, it was lots of fun - the Caps went down in a shootout after being 3 all at regular time.

So now I'm busy preparing demonstrations and practicing talks - I'm determined to get through both these two conferences without having the product do something unexpected. TOWER always do live demonstrations of our software - and so far, something has gone slightly weird for me every time. Not this time. I'm going to stay up all night rehearsing (and praying to the patron saint of software demonstrations...)

Hey - did anyone else notice that the word "demonstration" has the word "demons" in it?.. Maybe that's the problem...

For all the Australians Who have Jet- Lag...

I found this next to the original Wright Brothers Plane in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
I know, it's childish...

(Note to overseas friends - the word 'rooted' has a slightly different meaning in Australia.

Like I said, it's childish...)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Gord's American Adventure - Friday

Today I headed out to visit a customer who was about to deploy TRIM Context and ice. It's really quite rare that our development staff get out to visit a customer. These guys, like a lot of US federal government sites were literally just over the road from The White House. So after I'd overcome my fascination with American History, and lived out this mild TV star fantasy that I was in an episode of The West Wing ( I must admit I turned up my collar against the Washington cold in a very Josh Lyman-like way when I got out of the car - but I'm pretty sure no-one was looking), I was set to get to work.

I know I've probably carried on about it too much here, but I really like to improve the way people work. It was extra cool to see how ice, and the TRIM platform could so easily solve the business problems these guys were facing.

After that we grabbed some lunch at a Ruby Tuesday restaurant. Try as I may, I still fail to understand the whole table service - tipping thing. I have to admit - I really don't like it when super keen and extra-friendly staff interrupt a conversation to ask if "everything's okay?"

I mean - I'm talking to my friends and colleagues. Can't you just leave us alone? To me, it's just so weird - In Australia, if people are chatting, the waiters/waitresses don't interrupt. That would be rude. As Dean pointed out though, a lot of American custom with cuisine and dining was inherited from the French. Which is probably better than the English. Although it does mean that you can't get meat pies in America...

After Work, a bunch of the guys (and gals) went out to a popular Mexican place - the Rio Grande , where I discovered that there is indeed a premium Corona beer - it's called Modelo Especial, and I thought it was great. (I may not share that view in the morning though. These guys sure know how to drink.)

Tomorrow I'm going to go and live at Greenie's house, and watch the football. Apparently you can throw the ball forward! Whatever. According to popular rumour, there is a beer keg in the basement!

God Bless America...

Oh, and the night before, we went to an Outback Steakhouse! (It's okay LHS, I'm bringing you back a real colour menu.) Suffice to say that it was "Bonzer Tucker", but the "Big Blokes' Beer" called for a "Big Blokes Piss" fairly shortly after consumption...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Gord's American Adventure - Day Something

It's kind of hard to tell where exactly the day started, or ended. Time is a fuzzy, fuzzy made up human thing...

Let's see - last post I finished on the floor of Stilly's Mountain View Apartment. Since then, I've been to visit the Googleplex, where I ate lunch at Charlie's Cafe (amazingly good Chinese food including without doubt the most horrible beverage I ever consumed), wandered around the campus, saw amazing things, and pooed in the most hi tech and impressive toilet I've ever had the pleasure to poo in.

Really, the googleplex is Nerd Heaven. It's where all the nerds would love to go if they died. A huge sprawling campus full of other nerds to argue with about stuff, unlimited delicious free food, every hi tech gadget , toy and convenience you could imagine. Dual 24" Monitors. Whatever hardware you want...Freedom to create whatever you want, on pretty much your own schedule...

After that I took the train into San Francisco, and got very, very rained on. I did get to ride a cable car on market street, and then get completely lost. San Francisco is a very neat looking city. I liked it a lot. I just wish it wasn't raining so badly. I could just make out the Golden Gate Bridge through the fog. (Alcatraz was out of the question).

Lets see.. Then I returned back to Mountain View, ate as much as I could of an enormous hamburger for dinner (I have never been hungry since I arrived in America, but I sure have eaten a lot!) and hopped on the hour long flight out of San Jose to Los Angeles.

That left me with an hour of wandering around LAX waiting for the overnight flight to Washington. That gave me lots of time to get annoyed, but little did I know...When it finally boarded, the flight was absolutely packed, and I ended up sitting next to the world's most annoying Sikh man, who thought it was okay to talk really loudly until about 2 o'clock, in Singhalese or Urdu or Hindi or something (apologies to any speakers of any of those languages I may have just offended.)

I'm a very patient man, but when he started clapping (I'm serious - clapping, in time to his iPod loudly at three o'clock on the red-eye) Even my patient soul couldn't handle it any more.

Sleepy Gord : "Um Man, are you cool?" (this is a leading question)
Annoying Turban Man: "What?"
Sleepy Gord : "Is that a cool thing to be doing? Clapping like that? While everyone else is trying to sleep? I don't think it is!" (evil glare)
Annoying Turban Man: "Oh. That. Well alright." He looks away.

At this point he decided to start flipping the top of his soda can in time to his iPod instead.

You know how once you're really annoyed with someone, it doesn't matter what they do? He could have just sat there and done nothing and I would have become more pissed off with him. Fortunately for me, he didn't. He farted. He snored. He kept hogging the armrest, and leaning on me. I sat there, seething, wondering if it was true that Sikhs never cut their hair, and if anyone had ever been strangled with their own beard.

Eventually, I stumbled into Dulles Airport, having had zero hours sleep, and in a thoroughly unpleasant mood. I managed to check into my hotel, and collapsed on the bed. Lucky for me, my colleagues at TOWER Software US came to retrieve me at about 12:30. Nice to put faces to all these voice and email people I've been speaking to for years.

Now, to get back to that sleeping thing...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Gord's American Adventure - Day 1

Well, here I am. Contrary to my suspicisons, America does actually exist, and is not just something made up for TV. The flight over from Sydney is really, really, really long and boring, and the novelty wears off after about an hour, leaving 12 and a half hours of boring, boring waiting. As soon as I sat down, my ass went to sleep, but sadly, that was not indicitive of the rest of me - I tossed and turned for 12 hours, and every time I closed my eyes, my brain would keep playing Sufjan Steven's Come On feel The Illinoise , which was driving me absolutley crazy.

(Did I mention that the flight is really, really long, and boring? well, re-read that sentence about seven hundred times to get a real insight into how boring and long it was.)

Eventually, we landed in a rainy, dsmal, and stinky Los Angles - it took me an hour to clear the customs, which menat that I wouldn't make my connecting fllight - lucky for me it was delayed by an hour and a half. LAX seems like this weird enormous human rat maze that was designed by some social scientist as a cruel joke. I got shuffled in and out of queues, had my passport requested four (4) different times, had to fill out three forms, and at one point had to pick up my luggage and wheel it about 10 metres down a hallway to give it to another baggagge handler.

Anyways, after that I ended up in the American Eagle terminal, waiting an hour for my flight to San Jose. The American Eagle terminal, in stark contrast to LAX Proper, felt like a tin shed - this was because it was largely a tin shed. I watched Alabma win the Cotton Bowl (I think) much to the delight of the people sitting on the uncomfortable plastic chairs beside me.

An hour and a slightly horrible sandwich later, I made the flight to San Jose, where Mikal collected me at the airport, and took me home to Mountain View. Boy was it nice to see a familiar face!

After a cup of tea, and ringing home to talk to my guys, and having fun with Andrew and Matthew, Stilly and I went on an adventure to the supermarket. Whew! There are so many weird and wonderful things to buy in this country. In the end, we bought stuff for Enchiladas (got the recipe from the packet) - and drank Coors while me made a disgusting mess of the kitchen. I was quite keen on buying the 1.8L bottle of Vodka for 15 dollars, but that was mainly becuase of the price than the necessity. As Mikal said, "there's a lot of pain to dull".

Besides, the kitchen would have been much, much worse if that was the case.

I collapsed on the couch at about 8:30, and now it's time to visit San Francisco, and visit the Googleplex for lunch, before heading to Washington DC tonight.

Hopefully I can also find a card for my camera, so I can get some photos online when I get a chance. You know how you always forget something? Well, I forgot my USB cable...