Off on holiday

We fly off to Majorca for a long needed week of relaxation tomorrow, so this blog will be a bit quiet. When I get back I plan to start doing more stuff in Second Life, including building a thing or two.

Holiday reading list:

Do avatars dream of virtual sheep?

(With apologies to Philip K. Dick.)

As the Switzerland v Ukraine game was threatening to send me to sleep yesterday evening, I fired up Second Life and happened to meet up with Ian from eightbar, who gave me some great pointers about getting around and understanding the world (along with some nice bikes and boats!) Ian has been doing a lot of investigation into the area of virtual worlds/MMOs and how the potential that exists in virtual worlds may be harnessed. When reading and listening to him on the subject, you can’t help but be enthused.

So much so, that I woke up this morning from a rather vivid dream in which I found myself talking to a room of people about mash-ups, Second Life, wet-ware grids and a load of other Web 2.0/3.0 buzzwords. Quite worrying!

My dream also gave me an idea of what I might build in my first go at creating something in SL that interacts with the “real” world”, but more on that later…

P.S. A link for all your virtual sheep needs 😉

WebSphere ESB for z/OS Redbook residency

As I mentioned earlier, WebSphere ESB for z/OS is now released. There is an IBM Redbook residency currently being advertised to write a getting started guide for both WebSphere Process Server and WebSphere ESB on z/OS.

Residencies are open to IBM and non-IBM employees and are a great way to increase your knowledge of these products, and to get your name in print! This residency is being run in Raleigh, North Carolina for four weeks starting on 23rd October. It is being led by a friend of mine, Martin Keen. More details and the application form are can be found on the IBM Redbooks site.

Starting my SecondLife


Following in the footsteps of many other colleagues, especially Ian and the guys over at eightbar, I’ve taken my first steps into the virtual world of SecondLife. At the moment, all I’ve done is purchase an England top, as displayed above, and visit an online appearance by the US rapper Chamillionaire. Seems like a pretty cool place, and I look forward to playing around some more. It runs fine on my T42p Thinkpad with 2GB of RAM, but is a bit slow on my 12″ iBook G4 (1.33GHz, 1.5GB RAM)

What is WebSphere ESB?

A lot of people will have heard IBM talking about ESB as being a pattern rather than a physical product back before the SOA related announcements made last year, so given that, why do we now have a WebSphere ESB product?

Well, an ESB still is a pattern describing the requirements for message routing, transformation and protocol translation amongst other things. WebSphere ESB is simply a product which can help to realise an instantiation of the ESB pattern, particularly when what you want to deal with is primarily XML sent over SOAP or JMS, and maybe a bit of integration with some back-end non-XML systems via adapters.

WebSphere ESB shares a common infrastructure with our WebSphere Process Server product, namely Service Component Architecture (SCA), Business Objects (Based on SDO) and the Common Event Infrastructure. All this sits on top of WebSphere Application Server.
The main functionality in Websphere ESB comprises the concept of a mediation module, a type of SCA module, which can contain a mediation component. The mediation component allows you to build up flows to handle the mediation of messages as they flow as requests or responses over the ESB. You get a set of pre-defined mediation primitives for things like logging, database lookup, XSL Transformations and content based routing. What's more you can write your own custom mediations in Java.

You can develop mediation components and their flows in the WebSphere Integration Developer tooling, and deploy them to both WebSphere ESB and WebSphere Process Server.

There's a whole lot more to be said, and I'll weigh in with more one this blog regularly. For now however, I'll refer to you some useful articles from IBM Developerworks:

Work clothes, and bespoke suits

Another aspect of having a video conference with a customer is that I came into work today dressed in shirt and trousers. As a developer, I spend most days in jeans and a t-shirt, so it makes a nice change to have the occasional need to go "business casual" or even to wear a suit…

… which gives me a nice lead-in to plug one of the first blogs I ever read – the excellent English Cut. Thomas is a bespoke Savile Row tailor based in Cumbria, and is obviously somebody at the top of his game. His blog is a fascinating read into the art of cutting and tailoring, and it's an ambition of mine to one day partake of his services. I'd highly recommend reading his top ten blog entries.

Video conferencing

In nearly eight years at IBM, I've never been involved in a videoconference. Until today.

One of our architects has taken on an advocacy role for a customer in Denmark, and as such the video conference was the most practical way of introducing himself without the relative anonymity of a straightforward phone call. I tagged along to help answer any questions they had about WS-Security.

I have to say that apart from the introductions at the start where it is obviously preferable to put a face to the name, the rest of the meeting would have been much better served by a teleconference and an e-meeting. The audio quality of the video conference was poor, whilst trying to view shared documents on a low resolution TV screen was laughable.

It was particularly annoying when they started to tuck into the cakes the Danish IBM host had provided for them 🙂