Monday, July 31, 2006

Later Bendy

Had a cold one with my original boss at LM. He is off to start his own digital textile printing business.

He was one of my favorite managers because he trusted me and turned me loose to do stuff. And he is smart & really engaged. I like the smart ones, mostly ...

Anyway, will miss you Bendy.

Good luck in your endeavor. Hope you sent that email ...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Ruby Blocks

I commented on how I think Ruby Blocks are pretty sweet to my friend Erik and he responded:

come on dude, you sure you wouldn't rather type:

File f = null;

    f ="/tmp/bs");
catch(IOException ioe)
    if(null != f)
        catch(Exception e)

than:"/tmp/bs") { |file| //do stuff }

(that's my favorite example btw)

Yeah, so I like blocks better then the above ;)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Learning Ruby

I am embarrassed to say that I don't know Ruby. I've hacked together shell scripts, done some Perl, but don't yet have any experience yet with Ruby.

Looks like my team may be using a bit of it, so I'm going to start learning it.

Just returned from Powells Technical Books (best bookstore flat out) with a Ruby book. They were all out of them at OSCON, but still happily gave me the OSCON 35% discount. I didn't have my badge from OSCON on me, but I did have a Mozilla Firefox T-shirt on so they believed that I'm a hacker.

Upon the recommendation of my friend Erik, I bought Dave Thomas' Programming Ruby.

I'll let you know what I think as I learn. I know a lot of people who I respect who dig Ruby. I'm assuming I will as well. I doubt I will turn into a Java basher though (like a lot of the Ruby on Rails crowd), but one never knows.

Friday, July 28, 2006

OSCON - Eben Moglen

My friends I was with at OSCON all ditched out on the Eben Moglen keyote at the end of the conference.

Their loss.

Eben is wicked smart and is doing very important work. The OSS community is lucky to have such able & passionate legal counsel.

While I don't always agree with the Free Software Foundation, I'm sure glad they are there.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

OSCON = Exhausted

Well, another OSCON is coming to an end.

It has been great. I am exhausted. If there was any doubt, I am now completely 100% washed up. I went out Monday, Tues, Wed. Last night especially. Monday, went out with a crew to the Portland City Grill. Tuesday, different crew - different restaurant. Last night was insane. Went to the Jive Software, OTBC, OSL party which was insane. Met Matt Raible. That gentleman is insane (in a good way). Also Bill Lynch from Jive. Also insane.

The sessions have been pretty good, although they have the annoying habbit of putting 2-3 sessions I want to attend all in the same time slot & then having none in the next, but all and all good show.

I met / listened to some of my favorite bloggers in sessions:

I was pretty impressed with a Sun session I went to. As I said in May, I think they are starting to come back. Now I have nothing against Ruby, but this session was a breath of fresh air as the Sun dudes were wicked smart and thoughtful. Some in the Ruby crowd (while also smart) are not so thoughtful.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Busy day.

I was at the office at 7:30 AM PST for a ccall and then at OSCON for Businesses Partnering with Open Source Communities: Opportunities, Perils, and Pitfalls at 8:30 AM.

It was pretty good. Didn't tell me anything I didn't really already know, but good reinforcement and looks like the handouts have some good articles I have not read.

It reinforced my belief that industry and acadamia need each other. The presenter, James Howison is doing his doctorate on OSS communities.

After OSCON, I walked to the office and ripped some meetings. For dinner, I hit Portland City Grill for dinner with friends. It was absolutely delightful. We had a wicked view of Mt. Hood and the food was ridiculous.

Looking forward to the Executive Briefing tomorrow.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Reading Books 2.0

I finally finished reading Charlie Wilson's War.

I generally liked it. I knew that the United States was involved in helping the Mujahideen in Afghanistan during the Cold War, but had no idea just how much. I didn't know how tight we were with Pakistan and how we turned a blind eye to their Nuclear activities. I generally understand the details of "unintended consequences" a bit better now. And I had no idea how much 1 Congressman can get done (for better or worse).

The book reinforced my opinion that the world is insanely complex. It also made me less of a news junkie. Reading a view of history like this and realizing that at the time these events were taking place none of this was public knowledge makes reading the news voraciously seem rather pointless. Don't get me wrong, I'm still paying attention, just not as much.

I'm going to start reading The World is Flat, Release 2.0, by Thomas Friedman next. I used to read Tom Friedman's column every week at the NY Times. I quit at some point - forget if they put it behind a login or I got sick of it or what. And can we please all just shut up about "2.0". Does everything have to be "2.0". I mean come on - enough.

For software related stuff, I'm still reading: Open Sources 2.0 (the sequel to Open Voices)
Producing Open Source Software
and occasionally glancing at Open Source for the Enterprise (don't think it is very good).

Saturday, July 22, 2006

OOPSLA Event Driven Architecture Workshop

Saw this workshop at OOPSLA on EDA here in Portland, OR this fall via Marco on ESP.

I haven't been spending as much time obsessing about EDA as of late. But I still think it has the most promise in terms of enabling wicked cool integration. We just need something like AMQ IMHO.

Anyway, I hope to be there.

Maybe some of my EDA practitioner friends will be too?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Open Source Transparency

Saw this article by John Udell via Pete Lyons

This is one of the many reasons I dig Open Source:

Open source software development, to a degree unmatched by any other modern profession, offers apprentices the opportunity to watch journeymen and masters at work, to interact with them, and to learn how they think, work, succeed, and fail. Transparency and accountability govern not only the production of source code but also the companion processes of design, specification, testing, maintenance, and evaluation.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

U.S. Dpt. of Defense and Open Source Software

Saw this via Matt Asay.

Guess who is saying: To summarize: OSS and open source development methodologies are important to the National Security and National Interest of the U.S. for the following reasons:

  • Enhances agility of IT industries to more rapidly adapt and change to user needed capabilities.
  • Strengthens the industrial base by not protecting industry from competition. Makes industry more likely to compete on ideas and execution versus product lock-in.
  • Adoption recognizes a change in our position with regard to balance of trade of IT.
  • Enables DoD to secure the infrastructure and increase security by understanding what is actually in the source code of software installed in DoD networks.
  • Rapidly respond to adversary actions as well as rapid changes in the technology industrial base.

Yes, the U.S. Dpt. of Defense that is who. Now don't you feel silly for believing all that FUD?

Oh wait, there is more to Open Source then cost savings? Wait, now I get it!!

Seriously, this is good news for Open Source.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Blog Policy

I republished all of my posts today in order to bring my blog in compliance with my employer's, (Liberty Mutual, Agency Markets) developing blog policy. I needed to get the disclaimer on all of the pages. Sorry for screwing up your RSS reader.

My blog has been unconnected with my employer until recently when I posted some jobs, which, made it clear who I work for.

I inquired about a blog policy (since one didn't exist) and one is now in the works. In the interim, I received some initial guidelines.

It is your standard stuff:

  • The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of Liberty Mutual
  • Vendors mentioned are not free to quote with attribution Liberty Mutual

But besides that, I was encouraged to continue blogging. I'm happy about this because I really enjoy doing it. I learn more from reading blogs and maintaining a blog then almost anything. There is something about just writing down your thoughts about complicated things in a public forum that makes you think harder in general. There is a real joy when you see people reading your blog (even though I only get 50 unique readers per day so far except when someone links to me), commenting on posts, and linking to it. I have made a handful of "blog friends" who I really respect. And some of our best candidates for the jobs I posted have come through my blog. I am a huge believer in blogs in general - not just for technology, but for all things. Blogs are driving tons of innovation and progress because they are breaking down traditional walls. That can be dangerous, but there is much more upside then downside. I am glad that I work for a company that cautiously encourages this.


I am looking forward to OSCON next week.

This is far and away the best conference I have attended.

It is also extremely convenient as it is a block away from my office. Last year I was attending OSCON as an Open Source ESB vendor. This year, I'm attending as the leader of a team dedicated to Open Source Software within Liberty Mutual, Agency Markets (large insurance company) - who knew!?

I typically just go to the sessions, but this year I am going to Businesses Partnering with Open Source Communities: Opportunities, Perils, and Pitfalls and O'Reilly Radar: The Executive Briefing

And of course some cool parties ;)

Let me know if you will be in town and I'll buy you a coffee or a cold one.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

OSL Tour

I went down to Oregon State University yesterday and met with Corey Shields - he is the Infrastructure Manager for OSL.

Fairly impressive facility. Very cool to see some of the machines that host Mozilla, Gentoo, OpenOffice and even Also all sorts of crazy machines for testing Gentoo. And a rack full of handhelds for testing those - that was pretty sweet.

They are growing - adding a bunch of racks.

If I had a growing Open Source Project, I'd park it at OSL. These guys know their stuff.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Standards Smanderds

Saw this via darth.

Great question/answer by Sun's Rich Green:

You see a lot of activity among developers happening in open-source projects and outside the standards processes, where most of Java development has historically happened. Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing for Sun and Java?

Green: Oh, I think it's a great thing. You have to make sure that you don't get too hung up on history being the only way to do things. Standards were a great way of operating in the industry in a pre-open-source-world lifestyle, because they were the only way to gain sort of visibility and normalization or compatibility in products that were available in binary form. Now that things are available in source code form, (there are) different models of innovation and creativity and different notions of what is standard. So we're not trying to control it. We're not trying to say, "If it's not Java, it's not good." You'll see us reaching out to these projects and programs and supporting those things in ways greater than we've done before.

So, I'm just asking ... but in the age of Open Source then why do we need all of these? Why is so much premature standardization happening?

I'm all for standards, but how about we prove things out with Open Source first and then standardize once we have had a chance to beat things up really well?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Web Services Panicscape Over Under

I commented on this on a couple blogs I read already, but I need to mention it here because I keep thinking about it. I came across it on Brenda Michelson's

Tell me that this isn't insane and has one iota of a prayer of making our lives integrating better.

This is madness.

One of the things I used to like to do was to set over unders for random things I encountered in my daily life - like I'm some sort of booky or something. My friends/co-workers would then place fake wagers on the over/under.

Sadly, I am going to set the over under for WS-* collapsing at 18 months. Too many software companies, integrators, etc. have too much invested ($$ and emotion) and too much to depreciate before we can get out from under this one.

If you are interested in placing a wager, please comment.

You Don't need no stinkn' IDL

Mark Baker says you don't need no stinkn' IDL:

Interoperability requires agreement, and agreement begets commoditization. If all the interfaces are the same, what would you describe?

And I agree.

As I have said before, I worked on CORBA systems at one point and somewhat "dug" the whole IDL thing. My little brain wanted Web Services to work the same way so when I have used web services I have gone the wsdl2java or xsd.exe route in .NET (no idea what .NET is calling it now .... this was a few years ago). I still think that wsdl2java is far less evil then java2wsdl which is just the most ass-backwards thing I have ever heard of, but the whole thing is an entire waste of time and results in entirely too much coupling and misery.

And it's just wasted coupling and wasted misery. Don't you want to spend your energy on better miserable things then this?

Update a half an hour later: Goodness, that brawl on the SOA Mailing list is still going on re: REST vs. WS-*.

In the context of that Stefan Tilkov, makes another good point on this topic:

OK, let's approach this differently, then - what, exactly, is the point of having an interface definition language if you're not generating code from it?

Removing the operation part from the contract (because it's static in case of REST) means you only need to generate code for the different schemas (if you want to, which I'm firmly opposed to). There's tons of tools to do this (e.g. JAXB in Java) supporting XML Schema. Why would you need anything more if you fix the set of operations?

Ah yes code generation. Another thing I used to think was neat. It's pure evile and don't let anybody tell you different.

Friday, July 07, 2006

EDA Lessons Learned - Config Files

See EDA Lessons Learned for the list

EDA is highly distributed.

This results in LOTS of processes and LOTS of config files.

This is another topic you want to think about at the beginning of the project.

We got this mostly right, by having Agent properties (JVM level) and Services properties. Service properties inherit from Agent properties (and can override them). We had some Java classloader problems, however, with Hibernate (not a big fan of ORM period - time savings are a myth - what is so wrong with SQL!? - sorry for the rant) and ended up with a property file on the system classpath. This seemingly small little problem became a total hassle. Last time I checked, it is still setup this way. We have talked a couple times about fixing it, but it keeps just getting talked about. We have talked about it enough to fix it 2X probably. And people trip over it occasionally.

So anyway, not too proud of this - don't do this. Pick a consistent approach and stick to it. If there is a problem, get it fixed right away or it will cause all sorts of little problems.

Deschutes Trout Creek

Since my wife thinks I'm nice, she gave me "a pass" as my friend Erik would say.

I get to hit Trout Creek on Sunday.

Good thing - I'm cooked and need a break.

Here little fishy fishy ...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Open Source Jobs Posted

The jobs I alluded to the other day have now been posted. Come be a part of the next wave of Open Source Software!

Here is the HR approved job posting. I wanted to just leave it at "Open Source Stone Killer" to see what we would get, but they wouldn't allow it. ;)


Utilizes expert knowledge of information and processing services to support the delivery of timely, quality software solutions. Develops, enhances and tests highly complex systems and/or software across multiple platforms, applications and projects. Acts as principal project architecture designer for 1 or more project teams. Transforms common system requirements into design for shared and reusable services. Coordinates upgrades and rollouts of larger, more complex scope. Leads projects or subprojects of significant technical complexity.

In this strategic role, you will deliver business value by building systems that meet or exceed business requirements and agreed upon timelines using Open Source Software.

Participate in developing the Liberty Mutual Agency Markets IT Open Source Software strategy.

Partner with the Open Source Community on Linux usage and middleware usage and contribution.

Evangelize lessons learned from Open Source Software community to our distributed developer network.

For these roles, we have the opportunity to hire at two levels: "Principal Software Engineer" and "Technologist".

As a “Principal Software Engineer” on our team, you would utilize expert knowledge of information and processing services to support the delivery of timely, quality software solutions. Develop, enhances and tests highly complex systems and/or software across multiple platforms, applications and projects. Act as principal project architecture designer for 1 or more project teams. Transform common system requirements into design for shared and reusable services. Coordinate upgrades and rollouts of larger, more complex scope. Lead projects or subprojects of significant technical complexity.

As a “Technologist” on our team, you would be responsible for developing clear, comprehensive and integrated technical and product architectures which support the IT infrastructure and provide long-term competitive advantage in the three to five year time frame. Review architectural designs to ensure consistency, maintainability and flexibility. Analyze highly complex enterprise wide system, technical and product issues to develop the strategic infrastructure direction. Investigate and forecast IT trends. Act as migration planning consultant and architecture guide. Lead projects or subprojects of strategic impact.

To be considered as a strong candidate for either role, you will need to have:

Extensive knowledge and experience building systems to support complex business functions.

Experience in financial services industry preferred, but not required.

Extensive knowledge of IT integration concepts including two or more of Portal technology, Event Driven Architecture, Service Oriented Architecture, Web Services, REST, and JMS.

Demonstrable experience with Open Source Software including Linux, Java OSS tools and frameworks and three or more of the following: Tomcat, JBoss, MySQL, PostgreSQL, PHP, Python, Ruby.

Negotiation, facilitation and consensus building skills. Strong oral and written communication skills; presentation skills.

Bachelors or Masters Degree in technical or business discipline or equivalent experience; technical degree preferred.

Generally a minimum of 8 years related experience.


Here is how you apply

  1. Click here
  2. Click on Experienced Hires
  3. Job Category: Information Technology
  4. Job Location City: OR-Portland
  5. External Job Title: Open Source Software Principal Software Engineer