Blog Posts from September 2003 (page 1 of 4)

Los Angeles: Still Here, Still Ugly

I’m in LA today for about 9 hours. This figures to be one of my last business trips for my old role: introducing a member of my old team to one of my old customers. My wife tells me it’s beautiful back home. Here, it’s overcast and ugly.

I’m sitting in a Starbucks killing an hour before I go pick up my old teammate. Everyone has their favorite coffee spot that they are loyal to. I’m loyal to Starbucks because they’re everywhere and many of them are WiFi hotspots. Extra bonus: today is “One Unwired Day” by Intel, so access is free.

Geek Dinner Alert

Geek dinner alert. Next Thursday night. 6:30 p.m. At the Crossroads, near Microsoft. Everyone is invited.
[The Scobleizer Weblog]

I guess it was just bad timing and not, in fact, a conspiracy to keep scheduling these on days when I am out of town. I should be able to make this.

First Day on the New Job

Not much accomplished, but it was only my first day. I hear this rumble of the coming avalanche of stuff to do but it’s not here yet. We had a team meeting where we did introductions. The team is pretty much evenly split between people who I knew before today and people who’s names I haven’t learned yet. First meeting with the boss is tomorrow so I’m guessing that’s when I’ll get buried in work.

One of my new teammates is Simon Guest, who gave me a shout on his blog today and added me to his very exclusive blogroll. I’m making some big changes to my blog tool (more on that later) but I’ll return the favor soon. In the meantime, check out Simon’s new book: .NET and J2EE Interop Toolkit. Everyone on this team seems to have a niche, Simon’s is .NET/J2EE interop. Not sure what mine will be yet (other than community, natch).

Over the weekend, I had an email discussion with Jimmy Nilsson that started when he asked if I’ll be working more with application architecture or interop architecture. As far as I understand, I’m responsible for fostering community for all types of architects. This would include at least strategic, applicaiton, interop, data, infrastructure and security architects with others added as appropriate. (For example, do we need to call out a unique messaging architect or is that just part of infrastructure?) However, we got a little confused over the use of the term “application”.

I’m going to try and use the terms from our Application Architecture Conceptual View (written by two more of my new teammates Maarten Mullender and Mike Burner). Part of the issue is the overloading of terms like “service” and “process”. In particular, I’ll be using the following terms from the Application section of the conceptual view:

  • Business Service – A service exposing mission critical enterprise data. In crude terms, take a typical three tier architecture, and replace the presentation layer with a service façade. I’ve been known to call this a “data-oriented” service.
  • Process Service – A service that ties together other services into a larger business process. These services could be business services or other process services. I’ve been known to call this a “task-oriented” service since business process is typically tied to business tasks.
  • User Interface – A system that is designed to interact with a user and leverages one or more services on the back end. I’d like to call this an application, but I’m worried people will think I’m talking about a tightly coupled system rather than a UI on top of a set of loosely coupled services.

Maybe, as a community, we can come up with standard definitions or even better names for some of these elements.

BTW, just because I’m avoiding the use of the word “application” doesn’t mean that application architecture goes away. If you look at books like P of EAA, there are patterns for building user interfaces (such as web presentation and session state) and patterns for building business services (such as domain logic and data source). Even if the business services and user interfaces are separate and loosely coupled, these patterns are still entirely relevant.

Today is the Last Day of My Life So Far

Typically, we recognize big change after it happens, not before. That gives you great appreciation for life-changing events that you realize are upon you. In my life, becoming a husband and becoming a father are two great examples of this. Today is another. Today is my last day as a member of Microsoft’s field organization.

After nearly five years “in the field” with Consulting, the National Technology Team and the .NET Adoption Team, I am moving into a new position at corporate HQ with the .NET Enterprise Architecture Team (known as .NEAT). I’ll be working for Adam Denning (who in a previous life wrote a couple of books on ActiveX Controls). .NEAT is a part of the Platform Strategy group headed up by Sanjay Parthasarathy which is in turn part of Eric Rudder’s Servers and Tools division. I get to work with some great people, most notably Pat Helland. Among other achievements, Pat was a “founding member” of the MTS team and he coined the term Autonomous Computing. Plus he’s got a great singing voice.

My role on .NEAT will be to foster Microsoft’s architect community. Currently, we have the MSDN Architecture Center, Architect Webcasts and the Community Architecture and Design GDN Workspaces. My goal is to expand the reach and membership of these efforts as well as improve the two-way communication channel between MSFT and the architect community. There is a lot of work to be done around architecture. When I heard John Zachman speak, he stressed that we are at the very beginning of the Information Revolution. If we look to history and see the widespread effects of the Industrial Revolution, we come away with a better understanding of just how much change the Information Revolution will bring. Much more than one company can do alone in my opinion. Architecture will play a key role in the Information Revolution, so involvement in a community of architects that shares ideas and distributes influence is pretty critical for Microsoft.

While specific community plans aren’t fully baked yet, I imagine it’s pretty obvious that blogging will be a part of them. In fact, after Scoble I may be the second person at Microsoft to get a job in part due to my blog. One of my first duties is to get Pat blogging. Watch for that soon. Pat’s working on the next generation of the Autonomous Computing architecture vision, code named Metropolis. Get more info on that at the PDC Architecture Symposium.

In addition to working with Pat, Adam and the other people on .NEAT, there are some other benefits of this change:

  • I don’t have to travel so much. My wife and 7 month old son are very excited about this. When I do travel, it will be to work interesting conferences, like PDC.
  • I can wear jeans every day and listen to music while I do my job. It’s pretty hard to listen to Linkin Park while presenting on SOA.
  • I get my own office with windows and a door. I figured since I was the new guy on the team, I’d get a cube near the bathroom or something. Apparently, those five years of seniority count for something. However, the rumor mill has it that we’re moving soon so I don’t know how long I’ll have it. They are even recarpeting it right after I start.
  • I have a lab of hardware “at my disposal”. <insert evil laugh here>
  • Since I don’t travel so much, I should be able to make at least one of Scoble’s geek dinners at Crossroads. I’ve been out of town for all of the ones he’s arranged so far, including this past Wednesday. Of course, if Scoble’s been planning them around my travel schedule, he’s screwed. 😄

Of course, there are a few downsides.

  • I may be joining a great team, but I’m also leaving a great manager and a great team that I helped build. I will miss working with them. It’s the first team I’ve been a part of at Microsoft that handed out official team nicknames like Guns, Groove Train, Voodoo, Jet and Swahili Wild Ass. Mine was Wizard, an obvious reference to Harry Potter.
  • With each job I take at MSFT, coding seems to become less a part of the job description. This is no exception.
  • Since I have an office, I can only assume I’m supposed to be in it regularly. After being a technical nomad for five years, the idea of going to the same place every day is sorta weird. At least there’s free soda there.
  • I have to give up my Toshiba Tablet PC. Since I don’t travel, I can’t justify two computers. So I picked power over style. Maybe a Tablet PC vendor would like to give me an extended loaner?

In the short term, I may go dark on this blog since I’ve got a lot of work to do before PDC. Don’t worry. In the famous words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’m running for Governor of California.

PressPlay and College Radio

I just signed up for the PressPlay free trial. I’m on the road and just needed some tunes. I guess I should also try some of the other the services, but so far I’m very impressed. Only a couple of annoyances: the whole “Portable Download” concept is way more complicated & pricey than it needs to be. Everyone else just charges 99¢ a song (or less). What’s with the buying “packs” of portable downloads? And, of course, their music collection could be bigger – no AC/DC :(. But lots of stuff that I haven’t listened to since I was a DJ for my college radio station.

Speaking of college radio, writing this post inspired me to google my old radio station KSCR. I guess it never occurred to me before now, but of course they are streaming over the Internet. Currently playing: World’s On Heroin by All. Never heard it before, but I like it. Current show on KSCR is Yay For Punk with Naitze “DJ Naitze Naitz” Teng & Kate Wilcox. Their on-air sound needs work and apparently the issues of DJ’s arriving on time still hasn’t been solved.