Yin meets yang
Blog Authors: Valerie Skinner 060000VKGS is part of the IBM developerWorks team, getting to know the real developers who make up the My developerWorks community and exploring the world of social networking. I'm enjoying learning what makes developers tick! I'm very interested in exploring online communities and social media and understanding real world application - how they can help people solve problems and work together.
The holidays are approaching... I'm getting ready to play Santa and in the mood for a little fun! I'm hoping my friends at My developerWorks can help... I want to compile a fun list of the best gifts for geeks.
Leave a comment to add your ideas!
Here are my gift ideas for geeks this holiday season:
Voltaic System's Solar Powered Backpack (and check out this cool developerWorks podcast interview with Voltaic System's Jeff Crystal)
Battlestar Galactica - the complete series in Blu-ray (most geeks I know, including myself, love this show!)
Your own remote telescope
Web Geek's Guide to the Android-Enabled Phone
The Social Media t-shirt that says it all (after all if we can't laugh at ourselves, what's the point?)
Map your DNA with the Genographic Project Kit
Chocolate covered coffee beans (for deadlines & late nights)
Into Java? You won't want to miss this interview with Chris Bailey, an IBM Java Client Support Architect. He's been helping out developers in the Java Runtimes and SDKs forum for many years and just recently began blogging on My developerWorks.
Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
Hi. My name is Chris Bailey, and I'm part of the Java Technology Center (JTC) team in IBM. The JTC is based in locations over five countries, from Ottawa in Canada through to Shanghai in China. I'm based at the Hursley Park Development Lab in the UK. I'm very lucky in that I have a fairly broad remit, so I get to work on a range of things. My "day job"is as the technical architect for the IBM Java service and support organisation, which is primarily responsible for fixing bugs in the IBM Java deliverables but also has a wider scope to enable IBM Java users to delivery successful application deployments. That second part means I'm also involved in our work to deliver new debugging capabilities and tools, improve the documentation, handle requirements, and look at the wider quality of IBM Java.
What Java resources does IBM offer that you think more people should know about?
There's a few things that have been around for a while that I'm not sure are widely known about, in particular the IBM Development Package for Eclipse and the IBM Java Runtimes and SDKs forum. The development package gives you a version of Eclipse that uses the IBM Java SDK, which means you can develop with the same Java that you deploy with, and you can use the debugging capabilities during development. The forum provides a a great way to ask questions about IBM Java and provide feedback in to problems your seeing and changes you think should be made. There's also a lot of relatively new stuff. In the last year or so we've delivered a whole set of new tooling: Garbage Collection and Memory Visualizer (GCMV), Memory Analyzer, Health Center and Diagnostic Collector, and we've also released new how-to style documentation in the Java Troubleshooting Guide.
Is there anything new the IBM Java Technology Centre (JTC) is working on?
There's lots going on at the moment in a whole range of areas. There's a big focus on usability, so we're working on improving the documentation. expanding the tooling and debugging capabilities, and leading JSR 326 / the Apache Kato project to provide a diagnostics API for writing tools. We're doing a lot of work on garbage collection and performance, providing deterministic Java in WebSphere Real Time and looking at scalability. There's continuing work with the open source community through the Apache Harmony and Xalan/Xerces projects and we're also working on other languages on Java, particularly PHP which is available as part of WebSphere sMash. Oh, and of course there's the work to deliver Java 7.0 which is in full swing.
Add to that the impending acquisition on Sun by Oracle and you can see that its an interesting place to be at the moment!
Tell me about your blog on My developerWorks...
The Java service and support organisation spends a lot of time debugging and troubleshooting Java applications and deployments. The "IBM on troubleshooting Java applications" blog is aimed at taking some of the knowledge we've built up on best practices and debugging techniques and sharing that with the wider Java user community. Hopefully some of the information covered will help developers to troubleshoot bugs more easily, and allow them to provide us with valuable feedback on some of the tools and debug capabilities!
How do you use developerWorks?
I use developerWorks both as a way of communicating what's going on with IBM Java: developerWorks hosts the formal downloads and documentation, I moderate the "IBM Java Runtimes and SDKs" forum, and I've written a couple of articles in IBM Java in the past; and as a way of keeping up with what else is going on with Java technology: I follow a number of the article feeds, including Java technology, WebSphere and Open source. Hopefully with My developerWorks it will get much easier to communicate with users of IBM Java.
How did you get started in the IT industry?
It's pretty boring I'm afraid. I did a degree in Electronic Engineering at Southampton University and joined IBM through the graduate recruitment program. I've been working with Java ever since.
Who was your first service provider? When did you first access the internet?
Er, probably Demon Internet using an 18K modem, probably around 1993.
What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
I use both Facebook and LinkedIn, and I follow a number of sites through feeds: BBC News, The Register, UK Climbing, a few forums and some blogs. I've not progressed as far as using Twitter yet.
What future technology would make your life easier?
I'm finding time management to be a bigger and bigger problem. It used to be a case of just dealing with your work items and meetings whilst trying to stop the the daily deluge of email getting in the way. With all the new productivity and collaboration tools, the downside is that there's many more sources of incoming work and time pressure, so anything that can organise and prioritise work load better would be great.
So you love rock climbing - what's the most adventurous or challenging climb you've done so far?
For the last 3 years or so, yeah. One of the great things about climbing is that it takes you to countries (or parts of countries) that you wouldn't normally visit - it takes you off the tourist trail. So far, outside of the UK, I've climbed in Spain, Portugal, France and Sardinia and whilst those aren't off the beaten track in themselves, the bits that I've been to probably are.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars. The special effects in the original Star Wars films were ground breaking, yet they were used to improve the story rather than the story being there to showcase the technology. More technology should be used that way!
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  my_developerworks interview mydw open_source developerworks 1 Comment 4,724 Views
This week, I'm bringing you an interview with Chris Walden, the new developerWorks Open Source zone editor who is doing quite a bit of interesting work around open source software on My developerWorks. Learn more about Chris and join in on the open source software collaboration by visiting: his profile, his blog, the Real World Open Source wiki, and the Real World Open Source group.
Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I've been into technology all of my life. My father spent his life in the electronic manufacturing end so I had access to things like calculators (when the were driven by red LED displays) and other gadgets as they came along. I tinkered with programming starting in High School because a friend of mine had an Apple IIe. I had an idea early on that computers were about problem-solving.
My technical career began on the support queue at CompuAdd where I quickly developed the skill of cutting away possibilities and zeroing in on the source of the problem. This was back when memory was $10 a meg and you actually tried to fix them rather than always throwing them away. From there I moved to a value-added reseller doing field support, which was invaluable. I spent time as a sysadmin for a couple of small companies, running mostly Novell and Windows NT. I spent time with the Texas Lottery Commission and then finally at IBM, starting as an architect and then moving into the editorial staff of developerWorks.
The editorial work has been a huge surprise for me. It was an opportunity that I had not expected and I've been enjoying the change of pace immensely. I've spent the last year plus working as the content acquisition editor of the Web Development zone. My role is essentially to determine what content will be useful for people who are interested in working with Internet-based technologies and causing articles on those topics to be written. I work with the author to help them refine their ideas into something that I feel will resonate with our audience and then help get the article into shape for publishing. At that point I hand it off to our talented production editors to get into final shape for posting on the web. It's very much like editing a section of a paper-based technical magazine; it simply happens to be delivered electronically.
However, this month I have moved from being editor of Web Development to editor of Open Source. I'm actually swapping with the other editor. We realized that our backgrounds and interests complimented each others' areas and so we arranged a switch. I've actually had my eye on Open Source since I moved into developerWorks so I couldn't be more excited!
Tell me about your favorite (or most interesting or challenging) IT project...
Gosh! There's been so much. I think, though, that the work project that I still think back on from time to time was the Y2K change-out at the Texas Lottery Commission. I was placed in charge of the workstations. There were several challenges. First, our biggest issue was that the stations in most need of replacement belonged to the people in the lowest strata. There was a little political fall-out about those people getting new machines while the directors had to make do with what they had. Secondly, there was no uniformity to our software. The machines were a hodgepodge of software which had been installed and managed one at a time.
My answer was that everyone would get their machine swapped. We'd start with the people at the top, then roll their machines down to the next level, and so on until the final machines fell off of the bottom. This was popular, because everyone got an upgrade. I also used the opportunity to move to an image-based approach to the operating environment. We divided the drives into operating space and personal space. People kept the data in their personal space and the operating space could be re-imaged at any time. It really cleaned up our environment and made it a lot easier to work on people's machines.
When did you first start using open source software?
I discovered open source about ten to fifteen years ago. I always struggled with the cost of keeping my home computer system going. I had access to great software in the places that I worked, but I couldn't afford to keep my home system quite so shiny. In addition, my own curiosity takes me in a lot of different places technologically. So I had a rather insatiable appetite for software, which cannot be legally satisfied commercially.
I had tinkered with Linux, but hadn't quite gotten it to work. However, I had discovered things like Pegasus email and the Netscape browser which I'd begun using. Finally, about Redhat 4, I got Linux to run and started trying to use it to do work. When I was at the Texas Lottery Commission I actually switched at some point to a Linux desktop, because we were a Novell shop and Novell was already supportive of Linux at the time. I haven't run another desktop since.
What makes you so passionate about open source?
I struggled to learn about some kinds of technology because of cost. As I said, I was curious about everything from programming to system security to graphic design and media editing. I was uncomfortable with stealing software to learn about it. However, when the software is free, you can have as much as you want. I don't have to choose a particular area of software to specialize in so I can afford it. I can get into anything and everything as my whim dictates. It's actually given me a bit of a reputation in some areas of my life outside of work as a Jack of All Trades.
To give you an idea, I've used open source projects to:
create business documents
surf the web
edit complex audio
run live sound for theatrical events
do 3D modeling and animation
touch up photos, adjusting skin, red-eye and even removing major objects from a photo
write theatrical scripts and screenplays
remotely support a network and workstations
create a full-color magazine
build and manage complex web sites
broadcast an online radio show
That's quite a list... and it's incomplete. I just love the fact that anyone who is willing to apply their mind and their time to learning something new can be rewarded. Technology is no longer just for the wealthy. It's for everyone. Anything becomes possible.
Any new technologies that you think are about to break into the big time?
I think that Cloud computing is going to be a big game changer, more than people appreciate. We are just scratching the surface on the power of virtualization. As we all become more interconnected with mobile devices and advancements in the Web 2.0 approach to doing things the resources that Cloud can provide are going to make a huge difference. Anyone will have access to the kind of technological power that was once reserved for the government and large corporations.
There are areas of encryption and identity protections that I think should be making huge strides, but are so under-appreciated except for geeks like me that they haven't really broken through. Imagine if you had near complete control of your personal information by only allowing what you wanted read by whom you wanted. Wouldn't that change the game?
What's on your list to learn about next?
That's a tough one. I'd really like to get further into multimedia production. I've gotten a little into video production, but haven't really had the time to develop any real skill there. I'd like to be able to be able to express myself better there. I'm trying to learn more about social networking, especially OpenSocial, and how this can be applied to connect people who should be connected.
Do you have any advice to share with students or new IT professionals just starting out?
Do more than just your job. If you go in and do what you're told and draw the paycheck, that's fine, but no one is going to come up and beg you to be more than you are. You may become the living example of “rising to your level of incompetence.” Be curious! Dig into the documentation and experiment with different ways of doing things. Innovate!
I progressed in my career because I was always able to reach a little further. A large part of that was the fact that I would just RTFM (read the fine material). Learn just a little more than you have to and enjoy the chances to play with technology. It's those extra discoveries which make it fun and the fun builds your passion and skill.
What do you think is something that is not commonly known about developerWorks that would benefit others?
That's a tough one. It's hard to know what people don't know. I'm going to change that around to what I think is underutilized. I think our audience doesn't take advantage of the opportunities to interact with developerWorks. They tend to quietly read the material but not jump in with a lot of comments and letters to the editor. I know that I would welcome more interaction with my audience. I think that My developerWorks falls into that category as well. It's all well and good to be a consumer, but when you actually spend a few minutes expressing yourself and sharing your wish list you help to shape what you get. It's a very open-source concept. You give a little here and there to get what you want. If you do nothing, you get what you get.
How are you using social networking today? Do you see it changing in the future?
I have mostly used social networking for personal things outside of IBM. It's only as I stepped into the editorial realm that I've appreciated the value of what social networking can provide for me professionally.
I've been on MySpace, though it was really hard for me to keep up with it. I got onto FaceBook and find myself being much more active there. It think it's because FaceBook does more to get in my face and remind me of opportunities to interact. When I see an email about a comment that someone left I'm a lot more driven to quickly give a comment back.
I'm really intrigued by the new tools in My developerWorks. I've started a Wiki and a group called Real World Open Source to help accumulate people and ideas about how to use open source solutions in our daily life.
What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
Slashdot is great, of course. There's a lot of noise there sometimes, but you definitely find a core of people who are passionate about their technology. I also like to get on different lists with various kinds of news. One that I've been enjoying lately is Fast Company. It has bits of tech news with marketing analysis and other diverse business views of the world. I've had several things that I've explored as a result of one of their articles.
Most of my exploration is less driven by specific sites and more by my own searching. Google provides. I punch in what I'm curious about and it always seems to find things that are useful. What I search for is driven by whatever is happening to me today or the problems that people have to challenge me.
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  blogging authors social_networking interview db2 mydw publishing blogs my_developerworks 1 Comment 4,805 Views
This week, I'm bringing you an interview with Susan Visser, a seasoned blogger and social networker with unique insights on DB2 , certification, and publishing. Learn more about Susan in the interview below. And don't forget to visit her profile on My developerWorks and catch the latest on her blog.
Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on:
I'm working on expanding the collection of books that are available to help train people on any of our information management products! These books include the retail books that you can purchase on amazon.com (including kindle versions) as well as the custom books that IBM gives away for free at events. One of the more recent books that published is IBM Press' DB2 pureXML Cookbook.
What inspires you in your work?
I'm inspired by people! I find something truly amazing about every person I interact with. I'm blessed to be sitting in the Toronto Lab, surrounded by 2500 brilliant IBMers. I like to help people realize their dreams of becoming authors and try to help promote the work that others do.
How do you think the publishing world is changing with new developments in technology like online publishing, ebooks, blogs, kindle, etc?
I don't think the publishing world has quite figured out what to do with all the change that is happening in the world right now. Actually, I'm not sure readers have figured out what they should do with all this change either! The one thing that hasn't happened is a slowdown in published materials. In fact, I'm constantly overwhelmed at the amount of content that is available on every topic. One thing for certain is that literacy skills are more important now than ever before!
How are you using social networking today?
Social networking has always been important in my life... but now I'm able to connect with more people than I could just face to face. I use my blog to tell readers about something that has come to my attention that they may wish to know about. I use Facebook to connect with my family, friends, and work colleagues on a variety of topics. I use LinkedIn for my professional network. I've been using ChannelDB2 and PlanetDB2 for years now but I am fully embracing the rich features available in My developerWorks! There is a thing as too much, so there are a few social sites that I'm not using.
Tell me about your blog on My developerWorks...
I started my blog in 2005! Does that make me an early adopter? I like to write and connect to people, so blogging was a natural progression in my career. I'm on the education team and was constantly being told that there were a lack of skills resources available to our customers. I knew that this wasn't true, so my intention was to use my blog to broadcast about the vast collection of resources that we have available. I like knowing that I help people find what they need to keep their skills current. My only complaint about blogging is that the tools are not always stable or flexible enough for me to be really creative in my posts.
So far, what do you think about the update of the My developerWorks environment to Lotus Connections 2.5?
I've been actively using and teaching people about the amazing features that exist on My developerWorks now that it is on Lotus Connections 2.5. The only thing that could improve the environment is by having more people registered and using the site! The more the merrier!
What publications or websites do you regularly visit?
The first website that I visit most regularly is PlanetDB2.com which is a collection of blog entries from the IM community. Nearly instantly I'm aware of what is on the mind of all my fellow bloggers. I use the ibm.com/developerworks/mydeveloperworks/blogs site for the same reason, but this community is much broader than what I get on PlanetDB2.com. The second site that I visit most often is amazon.com. I like to monitor the books that we've published and the reader comments that the books receive. I like to stay on top of what the competition is publishing and promoting.
What gadget that you currently own, can you not live without?
It isn't really a gadget, but I don't think I could live long without the internet! Sure, I go on vacations where I don't use the internet for an entire week... but I'm wishing I could! A gadget like the Blackberry would be perfect for me... but alas, the price is too high for Canadians, so I connect to the internet via laptops at work or home.
- Thanks Susan!
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  social_media fun social_networking personality 4 Comments 7,451 Views
I've always found Carl Jung's archetypes to be fascinating. As I've been trolling around lately in the social networking universe, I've observed some archetypes myself and thought I'd share! Let me know what you think! Do you identify with any of these?
Social Networking Archetypes
You're like a sponge soaking up information all the time and you like to share that information with other people! You blog and tweet often. It may be short and to the point but you keep it coming because you like to keep up with current events and strike while the iron is hot.
Make the most of your archetype: Embrace your strength and do what you love. Other people are looking for that timely information you provide. But consider learning from the Friend and the Personality archetypes to add a little warmth and color to your social networking.
You might be fun, sarcastic, witty, or brainy. But whatever you are let's face it... you've got Personality with a capital 'P'. You have a way of expressing yourself that's unique, and you're not afraid to put yourself out there. People like to follow you not just because of information you provide but the spin you put on it. It helps if you are passionate about a topic or share lots of information but what makes you shine is the personality factor.
Make the most of your archetype: Whatever medium you choose post regularly, be colorful and be yourself. But if you're in a corporate environment - don't forget you may need to censor yourself! Be sure to know your company's social media policy so your "Personality" doesn't get carried away.
You think deep. You might see a news story or have a small moment in every day life and it presents itself to you as a deeper revelation. You like to share these insights and your blog posts are lengthy and carefully crafted. You have wise perspective that others admire and enjoy.
Make the most of your archetype: Cultivate your philosophical musings and don't be afraid to share. Jot down ideas for blog posts as soon as they come to you. Find a topic you're passionate about so you can focus your philosophical musings on a consistent topic.
There's something that you really love - maybe it's guitars or programming or horses or french cooking or astronomy. Whatever it is, you LOVE it, and that's what's drawn you out into social networking where you can share your love with others like you.
Make the most of your archetype: Choose a niche community with shared interests to make your social networking home - this is where you can find others who get fired up about the same things!
One day you woke up and realized you possessed some expert knowledge. You might have cut your teeth and learned something the hard way. And you get a big thrill out of sharing what you know with other people. You like to help. You share instructions, tips, tutorials and helpful resources and you're always happy to answer a question.
Make the most of your archetype: Choose a niche community with shared interests to make your social networking home - this is where you can share your know-how with people who need it!
You're good at making people feel welcome. You love to read what other people write and share and then comment back. You probably have your own blog or Twitter account. And there's no doubt you love Facebook. But what you really enjoy is getting to know people via whatever medium you use.
Make the most of your archetype: Decide whether you want a wide social network or a deep one. If you want a deep one, pick a site or tool that you really love and connect with people in that environment. Consider choosing a niche - a certain topic you're passionate about - to build your relationships around.