Enterprise Media Services

The more I understand about Windows Media Services 9, the more I like it. I especially like the fact that can create your own data source plug-in as part of a custom broadcasting solution. However, one quick gotcha – you can only use custom plug-ins with WS03 Enterprise Edition. Didn’t realize until I had built and configured my virtual media server and compiled the sample data source plug-in. Annoying, but not the end of the world.

Consultants & Programmers

Not only in my blog back in action, but my gracious host Tom has started a blog of his own. Since he hosts DevHawk for me, I added him to both my blog roll and to my navigation links.

Tom’s first post (and the theme of his blog in general) is about the role of consultants and programmers in the future. He draws a nice parallel comparing how those roles are changing to how the chaufer role changed during the 20th century.

Movie Times Web Service?

There are a wide variety of web pages to get movie times information. How about web services? My wife and I went to see a movie on Saturday (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – loved it). On the way there, we got worried we weren’t going to make it in time. I figured I’d check if there was any other movies starting a little later in case we didn’t get there in time. Of course, I have my new Smartphone, so I wanted to use it. This turned out to be much more difficult than it should have been.

MSN Mobile entertainment section was useless – lottery and horoscope only. There don’t seem to be many sites tuned for smartphone access. TV Guide has a smartphone site - in case I want to check what’s on TV while I’m out?

I want a program that downloads local theatre movie times into my phone. Not too much to ask. In fact, I’d write it myself and give it away if there was a simple source for the data. However, for all the movie time sites, I can’t find a web service or even a source for the raw data.

Is there a movie times web service that I just don’t know about? If there isn’t where do the movie sites get their movie times data and how can I get a copy?

Unlikely Source on Architecture

I just finished reading this great book on architecture. It talks about governance, optimizing ROI, the importance of precision measurements, the opportunity found in inefficiency and how that inefficiency is often perpetuated by “conventional wisdom” that needs to be overcome or even disregarded in order to realize the opportunity.

You just have to get past the baseball on the cover.

The book is Moneyball and it about the Oakland Athletics, one of the best teams in baseball despite having the second lowest payroll in the game. The author, Michael Lewis, chronicles the A’s 2002 season when they won 103 games and had a winning percentage second only to the Yankees, who spend literally three times as much on players than the A’s can. The A’s are successful because they precisely measure the contribution of individual players and exploit the inefficiency of how players are valued by other teams. In the process, they make decisions that fly in the face of “traditional” baseball, but you can’t argue with the fact they’ve been to the playoffs four years in a row. You could say, the Oakland A’s have been architected to win.

I found the methodology that the A’a use to determine a player value facinating. Where other teams value batting average and RBIs, the A’s care much more about on-base and slugging percentage. The reason? The A’s have figured out that on-base and slugging are much more important to the team’s success. Obviously, batting average and on-base percentage are related stats, but they aren’t identical and that difference leads to an inefficiency the A’s can exploit. Players who get lots of walks have lower batting averages but higher on-base percentages and are typically undervalued by the market.

We’ve seen similar inefficiencies from valuing the wrong attributes in our industry. For example, early on in the web era, there was little understanding of the importance of scalability over performance. As a consultant in the late 90′s, I often saw systems designs that optimized performance at the expense of scalability. It took a long time for people to realize how much more important scalability was. It didn’t help that scalability was harder to measure and was often counter-intuitive. Throwing away objects between method calls? What lunatic came up with that idea? Of course, MTS turned out to be a big success and defined the processing model we still use today.

Today, everyone has pretty much figured out the value of scalability over performance. The question is, what will the next opportunity be? Or, to use the A’s terminology, what are people overpaying for?

Architect Road Rally @ TechEd

Among my other duties, I am co-ower of the architecture track at this year’s TechEd. We’ve got a great track lined up, including two new sessions from Pat Helland in his Metropolis series. You can see an earlier version of the original Metropolis session as part of the Architecture Strategy Series or read an article about Metropolis in the latest JOURNAL. I’m presenting a session on information architecture (guess I gotta get the slides done soon!). Plus there are 15 other great sessions to see on architecture. We’re also running two precon’s on architecture : One on patterns and practices (run by Keith Pleas, my recent partner-in-crime on .NET Rocks) and one on identity management.

After the precons on Sunday night, we’re having a party – the Architect Road Rally @ the San Diego Auto Museum. Party goers get a close up look at the history of Porshe, race RC cars and play the new Rallisport Challenge 2 on Xbox. We’re also giving away some RC cars as well as copies of RSC2. Plus, food & beer all evening (i.e. this is not an hor’dourves party). So please register and come have a good time.

Finally, we’re also planning on running focus groups @ TechEd – your chance to help us help you better with architecture. Also, people chosen to participate in the focus groups get something Cool. Register for the focus groups when you register for the road rally.

See you in San Diego!

Update: this post actually hasn’t been updated, I just deleted the original and crossposted from my main blog.