A new feature I just discovered about the IBM developerWorks blogs is the ability to publish some information publicly about yourself.
Why should you do this? Well, we're trying to create a greater sense of community here on developerWorks and this is one way for readers to tell us about themselves. I for one am really curious about the people who read this site and would like to know more about you.
Here's how you write up your profile:
- First, you'll need to register if you haven't already done so (this is admittedly a pain, but there are a number of benefits for registered users, and we're looking to add more).
- Next, post a comment to any blog entry (for instance, this one).
- After you post your comment, you'll see your username under the comment displayed as a hyperlink. Click this hyperlink. This is shown in figure 1, below.
- This will take you to a screen that says "All about somebody". If you're viewing your own entry, there will be an additional "edit fields" button at the bottom. This is shown in figure 2, below.
- You can add your name, web site, job title, location, and a short description about you. Your email address will be pulled from your IBM profile. All information is public once you add it, with the exception of email address, which can be shown by explicit opt-in.
That's it. If you're a regular reader of this blog, and you're feeling nice, after you profile yourself, post a short comment to this blog so that I can read your profile.
Thanks!Figure 1: developerWorks comment with name hyperlinkedFigure 2: developerWorks profile firstname.lastname@example.org
Update: 2005.05.11: I've made The World is Flat my recommended book for May.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I've been reading Tom Friedman's book The World is Flat
which discusses how advances in communications technology and the acceptance of capitalism is leading to increased globalization, outsourcing, etc.
It's a good and interesting read, meant to be a wake-up call to Americans who, in Friedman's view, are losing ground in terms of ambition and education to emerging capitalistic countries like India and China.
If you're interested in hearing more, but aren't ready to pick up the book, I just found this interview on Wired.com
where Friedman discusses some of the book's key points.
My only beef with Friedman's book (so far) is that he seems to wholly attribute the explosion of the Internet to Netscape and Marc Andreessen's "invention of the web browser". I've got the abridged audio CDs, so I'll have to verify with the full-length book, but from what I've heard there's no mention of Tim Berners-Lee
and the invention of the underlying standards of the world wide web
(URLs, HTTP and HTML) and early web browser implementations. Although no one would dispute that Netscape and Andreessen were instrumental in popularizing
the web browser, claiming that they invented it is like claiming that Microsoft (or Apple for that matter) invented the graphical user interface
James Governor of RedMonk has a nice write-up
talking about the dissonance between what IBM means by "highly scalable" and what most of the rest of the world means. An excerpt:
it's important to understand when IBM talks about scale, it really means something different from the rest of us. Danny, when he thinks about scale, thinks about the requirements of the biggest IT shops in the world. The top 20, say. When IBM bought Informix it initially classified Sears as a medium-sized customer... When IBM thinks of scale it thinks of problems nobody else can solve, where TPF and IMS-like models come in.
This reminds me of a lunch conversation that Bobby Woolf
and I had a few weeks ago about the Gluecode acquisition. Bobby didn't understand how Gluecode would fit with WebSphere Application Server (WAS) Express, which is targeted at SMB customers. I told him something along the lines of "calling WAS Express 'lightweight' is like calling a 6'3" (1.9 meter) NBA player 'short'; it's all relative".
I think it would be good if we recalibrated our language to match the rest of the industry, so that when we say "large", we are in the same ballparks as most people. But to this point, I wonder how the heck these things are defined anyhow? What constitutes small, medium, and large enterprises? Is there a category for the truly massive IT email@example.com
To great fanfare, IBM has announced its official support for blogging. Is this important in any way? In some ways yes, but I'm worried that we may be making too much of a big deal about it.
I think it's important in two ways:
- Changing attitudes of certain types of people within IBM who are uncomfortable with the idea of publishing uncensored thoughts, insights, and opinions to a broad audience
- Encouraging more people within IBM to blog internally to share knowledge, ideas, and best practices
On the first point - making people feel comfortable about this medium - it's hard to imagine after blogging for a while, but there are still some folks out there who are very uncomfortable with the idea of blogging. I think this is caused by two factors. The first is the whole tradition of a company closely guarding its image via a very select set of messengers in the communications department and having to clear any statement that might reflect on the company through them. The problems with this have been well documented in The Cluetrain Manefesto
and other places. The second factor that I think makes people uncomfortable are the few isolated cases of employees being fired for something they wrote in a blog. So hopefully having IBM officially bless blogging, and providing a published set of guidelines, will confirm to this type of person that "blogging is ok" and perhaps once they try it, they will like it, and start adding more voices to the conversation.
The second point I'm really excited about is simply the visibility that blogging has received by the creation of an internal blogging web site that explains why blogging is important and points to our internal blogging infrastructure. I think probably a large number of IBMers probably as of last Friday had no idea what blogging was and even fewer recognized it as a valuable collaborative mechanism. We have an extremely vibrant internal blogging community - an order of magnitude richer in terms of participation and content than what you see here on developerWorks - and I'm hoping that this will only increase because of greater awareness.
Now what are the downsides of all this hubbub over the blogging guidelines? Well, first of all, I have to wonder what sort of practical impact they will have on current bloggers. I'd say that for anyone who groks the idea of blogging, the guidelines are just common sense written down. I read through them once, said "looks good" and promptly forgot about them until they were officially published today. The folks at developerWorks like Michael O'Connell
, Scott Bosworth, Laura Cappelletti, and Rawn Shah have always been extremely supportive of blogging and it's really their support and general coolness, not these guidelines, that makes me feel comfortable to blog at IBM. And after talking to some of the leaders in corporate communications over the past couple of weeks (people like Teresa Yoo, Ethan McCarty, Jon Iwata, and Mike Wing) it's obvious that these people get it (in many ways more than I do) so guidelines or no, I have no doubt that these leaders will be just as supportive at a corporate level as the dW folks have been at a technical level.
In summary, I'm just not much of a guidelines type of person. I prefer common sense, but I see the value of the guidelines for a segment of the IBM community that otherwise may not have joined the conversation. IBM saying blogging is important in 2005 is a bit like Bill Gates saying the Internet was important in 1995; on one hand as a company we're late to the game (though there's been a significant grassroots effort for a while), but on the other hand we are a big gorilla in the industry so this will likely make headlines, raising the awareness level of blogging.
This ultimately is a good firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations to all the Lenovo and IBM folks for their successful completion of the IBM PC Division segmentation project
, completing Lenovo's acquisition of IBM PC Division. May 1st has had a big bullseye on it for many months now as "day 1" of PC Division as part of Lenovo but wasn't publicly announced in case something went wrong and the companies had to push it back.
But, we made it! I wouldn't be surprised if there are a few hiccups this last week, but from what I'm hearing, the cutover of IT systems from the current architecture to the segmented architecture went better than anyone hoped.
Great job email@example.com
IBM bestows its most prestigious technical honor
, IBM Fellow, on five of our technical leaders.
The developerWorks blogs are lucky to have two previously-recognized IBM Fellows as bloggers: Don Ferguson
and Grady Booch
On Thursday, I went to a roundtable discussion with some other younger IBMers to discuss leadership and career growth with an IBM HR executive named Mike Markovits.
As I mentioned earlier, I left right after that meeting to drive to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to visit family and friends. I was sitting here in my mom's house reading a book called The Leadership Engine
by Noel Tichy and decided to send Mike a note on some thoughts on leadership and his talk.
But there's a problem. Unlike my home in Durham, NC, my mom's house doesn't have a wireless network setup, and she's on the computer, so I decided to send Mike a note offline, which in Lotus Notes simply puts it in a queue that is sent out over the Internet when I get back online.
So I woke up my laptop and surprise! It said "more than one wireless network is available". Sure enough, in my mom's little apartment complex, in the proximity of her apartment, there are four wireless networks available, only one of which has security enabled. This means I could connect to three wireless networks for free, but of course I won't, because that would be bad, on several levels :-)
The fact that there are several unprotected wireless networks isn't surprising; I saw a TV special a couple of years ago where reporters drove by the offices of several companies and scanned for unprotected wireless networks and found more unprotected than they found protected.
Why don't people protect their wireless networks? Well I think it's the same reason a lot of available security measures are not turned on; the pain-in-the-ass (PITA) factor. Turning on security on a wireless LAN can take up to an 30 minutes for an uneducated user; 28 minutes to read about how wireless security works and 2 minutes to configure and enable it. Many people would rather leave their network wide open than make this time commitment.
For a good read on some of the human factors that hurt the best laid plans of mice, men, and security architects, check out Bruce Schneier's excellent book, Secrets and Lies
which I reviewed for the Rational Edge
a while back.
PS - You may be wondering how I am posting this blog entry sans network connection. Well, because I don't want to tell a lie, it will have to remain my secret ;-)firstname.lastname@example.org
I've been using Firefox
for about five days now and have started to really appreciate some of the ease-of-use features. Here are a few that have really impressed me:1) Its "find in page" implementation
One thing that really has surprised me is how much better Firefox's implementation of "find in page" is vs. IE's implementation. What I mean is simply when you want to search for some text in a web page. I had real problems with this function in IE. Sometimes I would search on text that was staring me in the face, and for some reason it wouldn't find it. Other times I would have to click in a particular frame and then start the find function again for it to work correctly. And in the last few weeks, using find in IE would crash IE 30% of the time.Figure 1: IE's clunky find in page mechanism
Firefox on the other hand has an incredibly smooth, unintrusive find feature. Instead of popping up an awkward dialog box, Firefox simply pops up a little tab near the bottom of the window that doesn't jump in front of where your eyes are focusing. The function works every time, across tabs, and it's got a really useful "Highlight" feature that makes it very easy to spot multiple instances of the same word.Figure 2: Firefox's slick find in page mechanism (with highlight enabled)2) Tabbed browsing
I know that this feature is becoming a cliche at this point, but I've come to appreciate it for a reason I haven't seen mentioned. One of the annoying things about opening multiple IE browser windows is that after opening about four of them, you decide that you really should close a few.
The problem with this is that different web applications have stored their session cookies in some of those windows, and when you close that window you kill the session cookie, meaning when you go back to some web site that saves state via session cookies, you have to re-login. I've noticed this especially on the IBM Intranet, which requires a one-time authentication per browser session. Since I've been using Firefox, I keep the one window open forever, and simply open and kill new tabs. Not having to re-login to different sites saves me several minutes each day.3) Embedded Bloglines notifier
I used to think the bloglines notifier for IE was handy; it sat in your system tray and when new blogs came in, you simply clicked it and it launched a new IE instance with your Bloglines feeds.
The Firefox one is integrated right into the web browser. Instead of launching a new window, it just provides a visual notification of new blog entries, you click it, and it takes you to your feeds, just like you clicked on a bookmark or typed a URL.4) Ease of extension
Several times I've had to download an extension to get some extra-browser functionality: the aforementioned Bloglines Notifier, Flash, etc. The download and install routine was so intuitive, I don't even remember how I did it; I just remember that I had to first allow it (good security) which was easy, then bang, I had it - no reboot required.5) I can always resize text
Some web sites simply print their text way too small. There was an option in IE to change the font size, but on many web pages it did absolutely nothing for some reason (guessing it conflicted with some CSS tags or something). On Firefox, this function works on every page, making life just a little easier.
In summary, Firefox is one easy-to-use, well-engineered piece of software. I can see now what all of these folks have been raving about for a while now. If you haven't made the switch yet, do so now
. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
I'm looking forward to discovering more useful email@example.com
For those of you interested in such things, A.O. Scott of the New York Times has provided an early, mostly positive, review of the new Star Wars movie: "Revenge of the Sith". How positive? Well, he ranks it above the original "Star Wars", which is an undisputed classic.Warning: Scott reveals a few plot points in his review.Here is the review
(free registration required).firstname.lastname@example.org
Last night, MTV had a special on "Unveiling the New Xbox" special which, in short, was one of the silliest, cheesiest programs I've ever seen in my life.
Strip away all of the hype, and what we're talking about is basically a very powerful computer in a shiny curvy box. However, MTV paraded it out in bizarre fashion. Elijah Wood (Frodo from "The Lord of the Rings" movies) was the emcee and after some gushing hyperbole about the Xbox's destiny to alter the history of entertainment, introduced the new system, Xbox dubbed the Xbox 360
. This was followed by an attractive young blonde woman in a stylish dress walking through a crowd of attractive twenty-somethings to rock music and a lazer light show. She was carrying a big bag which turned out to contain the new Xbox. Upon reaching a platform located at the center of the crowd, she opened her bag, set the Xbox on a table, and pressed the "on" button, which had the stunning effect of ... well lighting up the on button. Upon this happening the music blared louder and the crowd went wild at the sight of the little computer.
The show was relatively free of actually interesting content on the Xbox 360. It probably only had a grand total of about 90 seconds of actual Xbox 360 game footage, with the bulk of the 30 minutes spent on:
- proclaiming the new Xbox's importance to the evolution of the human race
- talking about the aesthetics of the Xbox's new case
- customizing the Xbox's case
- watching some hardcore gamers play a new game against each other (though more time was spent showing them taunt each other than the actual game)
- the band "The Killers" performing bad songs
All and all a very underwhelming introduction to this new system. But it's nice to see another major corporation giving MTV a chance to produce a high-profile special after the infamous MTV-produced Janet Jackson / Justin Timberlake Super Bowl 2004 halftime show :-)
For a real introduction to the Xbox 360, try this article from Gamespot
PS - One very cool thing to note about the new Xbox is that it will contain 3 - yes that's three
- IBM Power email@example.com
A bunch of IBM bloggers have been writing about IBM's acquisition of Gluecode, a formerly private company that provides an open source application server built around Apache Geronimo.
To be perfectly frank, I didn't really understand the implications of this deal, because I'm not up on open source economics and business models. But Stepen O'Grady of RedMonk provided a great, crisp Q&A
that nicely discusses the factors that likely caused the acquisition and some of the consequences of it.
Thanks to James Governor
(also of Redmonk) for the firstname.lastname@example.org
I read this article on the Onion
and had to laugh because recently I've been on a book buying binge; I get one in the mail and start reading it. One week later a new shipment shows up and I throw down the old book and start reading the new book.
The last book I completely finished was Extreme Programming Explained, 2nd Ed.
, because I had to write a book review on it (coming in this month's Rational Edge
around the 15th).
Here's a list of recent books that I've started but not completed:
- The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, by Tom Friedman
- Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet, by Katie Hafner
- Object Design: Roles, Responsibilities, and Collaborations, by Rebecca Wirfs-Brock and Alan McKean
- How to Read a Book, by Charles Van Doren and Mortimer Adler
- Only the Paranoid Survive, by Andy Grove
- Extreme Programming Refactored: The Case Against XP, by Matt Stephens and Doug Rosenberg
- Platform Leadership: How Intel, Microsoft, and Cisco Drive Industry Innovation, by Annabelle Gawer and Michael A. Cusumano
- Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things, by George Lakoff
- Winning, by Jack Welch
- Object-Oriented Methods: Principles and Practice, 3rd Ed., by Ian Graham
I've been making some good progress on The World is Flat
, the Jack Welch book and the history of the Internet book, less so on the others :-) The Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things
book is a cognitive science book dealing with some (relatively) new thoughts on how humans form categories. It's very fascinating and I'm going to try to hit that one hard next.
PS - For those not familiar, The Onion is a satirical newspaper so don't be surprised if this story or any others seem bizarre if taken at face email@example.com
Read about it here
. For a short history of Devlin's co-founding of Rational, check out this pre-acquisition interview with Grady Booch
Best wishes to Mike in his future firstname.lastname@example.org
IBM and National Geographic are partnering on an ambitious project that aims to understand the paths that the human race took from our origins in Africa to migrate and populate the world.
This project is called the Genographic Project
. It is a five year effort that plans to examine the DNA of hundreds of thousands of individuals and processing the data through Big Blue's powerful hardware and software.
The really neat thing for an individual is the ability to participate and discover where your ancestors came from. Now you may be saying like, "well, I know my ancestors came to America from Ireland in the mid-19th century". That's all well and good, but this project aims to discover where your ancestors were 10,000 years ago
, not 200 years ago. For instance, Nick Donofrio
, IBM's senior VP of Manufacturing and Technology, was well aware of his southern Italian background, but through the Genographic project, discovered that his ancient ancestors lived in ancient Persia (modern day Iran).
You can participate
by purchasing an order kit from the Genographic web site for about $100. This isn't cheap but hey, you're contributing to an important research project and you may find out something very surprising about your ancestors.
I got my kit about two weeks ago and collected my DNA over the weekend. It's very simple; you just swab your cheek with a stick they provide, put the samples in an envelope they provide, and look up your sample ID on the Internet a few months later.
When I get my results back, I'll post a link here, in case you're interested in seeing what sample analysis results look like. My current understanding is that I'm a typical American mutt; part Irish, part German, part Danish; it's going to be very interesting to me to find out the deeper origins.
Whether or not you're interested in participating, I recommend you have a look at some of the project information on the Genographic web site. It's a fascinating undertaking. Some links:
PS - Since IBM is a co-sponsor of this effort, IBMers can participate at a slight discount. The link to the discount is available from this page
on the IBM intranet (note that this link won't work if you're not an IBMer connected to the intranet via VPN).email@example.com
I closed some obsolete windows on my laptop today and I noticed something interesting. I had three windows remaining, which I never close. They are:
Now the interesting thing is that within Notes, I had about 10 different tabs open, some of which were emails, some of which were collaborative documents. Within Firefox, I had four different tabs open for different websites that I was visiting. Within Rational Software Architect (a product built on top of Eclipse
), I had several different perspectives and many views open, each of which shows me a different aspect of modeling and coding artifacts.Handles to the three platforms in the Windows taskbar
Each of these windows represents a different application-hosting platform, none of which are dependent on the underlying Windows operating system. In the future, via the IBM Workplace platform, I'll be able to access the same emails and collaborative documents in either
an Eclipse-based shell, or a web browser; so the Notes client platform, as a unique architecture, will go away and be subsumed by the Eclipse/web pair.
Both Eclipse and the web are strong in their own way, and this topic has been discussed ad nauseum, so I won't go into it here. But this situation brings up some interesting questions:Will Firefox and Eclipse ever be merged somehow?
Both are open source, both have architectures built around the micokernel + extensions pattern. Would it make sense to have "web browsing" simply be a perspective within Eclipse? My guess is no, simply because the brilliant architects from each platform wouldn't want to abandon their architectures for another.Will Workplace deliver on the promise of managed rich-client deployment at web-deployment costs?
The two biggest strengths of the web as a platform are its simple usage model but also it's extremely cheap cost of client deployment: click a link and you've deployed a new app to your desktop; click reload and you can deploy a new version if one's available. The folks over in Lotus-land are working on a solution
that would give this same ease of deployment to the Eclipse rich client platform
. The idea is that when you start your Eclipse-based product it automatically provisions new versions of components and new data, just like your web browser does everytime you hit a web site.
Now I know many would argue that the web usability model is still preferable for many types of tasks, and I would agree. But there are some instances where people are driven to the web platform purely because of deployment costs, and in this scenario, I'm really hoping that the Workplace folks can deliver on the vision of client deployment costs approaching firstname.lastname@example.org