Blog Posts from September 2006 (page 1 of 4)

New Version of Gamer Card Writer Plugin

Gamer Card Writer Plugin

There’s a new version of WL Writer, so I spent a little time updating my Gamer Card Writer Plugin. The big addition in this version is support for the different card styles from MyGamerCard.net. Also, I added a preview, so you can see what the card will look like before you insert it into your post.

Rather than post it here, I submitted it to the Windows Live Gallery, since they’ve added an area for Writer Plugins. You can download it from there.

“Working” From Home As The Office Moves

New Microsoft Issaquah Black Building

Even though I moved offices just a month ago, we moved again today. New office won’t be ready until Monday, so I “worked from home”. Of course, with two kids too young for school, getting much actual work done is essentially impossible. I did manage to get my blog upgraded to dasBlog 1.9 during the kids’ naps.

My new office building is “Issaquah Black” which is a much cooler name than “18″ or “Sammamish C”. The building used to be a Boeing building. In fact, my old next door neighbor used to work in this building, back when he and I lived a scant 2.5 mile / 6 minute commute from here. Boeing moved him to Everett and apparently decided to get rid of the building. A year ago, I moved to a new house on the outskirts of Redmond, so my commute is 12.5 miles / 20 minutes. Significantly longer than if I had never moved, but I love my house and can easily deal with a 20 minute commute. Even though main campus is closer (only 8 miles), with all the rush hour traffic it takes closer to 45 to get there!

Thoughts on the SOA Workshop

Last week, I attended an SOA workshop presented by SOA Systems and delivered by “top-selling SOA author” Thomas Erl. It was two SOA-jammed days + the drive to Vancouver and back primarily discussing SOA with Dale. In other words, it was a lot of SOA. I went up expecting to take Erl to task for his “Services are Stateless” principle. However, that turned out to be a misunderstanding on my part about how Erl uses the term stateless. However, while Erl and I agreed on optimizing memory utilization (which is what he means by stateless), that wasn’t much else when it came to common ground. As I wrote last week, Erl’s vision of service-orientation is predicated on unrealistic organizational behavior and offer at best unproven promises of cost and time savings in the long run via black box reuse.

Erl spends a lot of time talking about service reuse. I think it’s safe to say, in Erl’s mind, reuse is the primary value of service orientation. However, he didn’t offer any reason to believe we can reuse services any more successfully than we were able to reuse objects. Furthermore, his predictions about the amount of reuse you can achieve are completely made up. At one point, he was giving actual reuse numbers (i.e. 35% new code, 65% existing code). When I asked him where those numbers came from, Erl admitted that they were “estimates” because “there hasn’t been enough activity in serious SOA projects to provide accurate metrics” and that there is “no short term way of proving” the amount of service reuse. In other words, Erl made those numbers up out of thin air.

This whole “serious” or “real” SOA is a major theme with Erl. One the one hand, I agree that SOA is a horribly overused term. Many projects labeled SOA have little or nothing to do with SO. On the other hand, it seems pretty convenient to chalk up failed projects as not being “real” SOA so you can continue to spout attractive yet completely fictional reuse numbers. I asked about the Gartner’s 20% service reuse prediction and Erl responded that low reuse number was because the WS-* specs are still in process. While I agree that the WS-* specs are critical to the advancement of SO, I fail to see how lack of security, reliable messaging and transactions are holding back reuse. If anything, I would expect those specs to impede reuse, as it adds further contextual requirements to the service.

While I think Erl is mistaken when it comes to the potential for service reuse, he’s absolutely dreaming when it comes to the organizational structure and behavior that has to be in place for this potential service reuse to happen in the first place. I’m not sure what Erl was doing before he became a “top-selling SOA author,” but I find it hard to believe it included any time in any significantly sized IT shop.

Erl expects services – “real” services, anyway – to take around 30% more time and money than he traditional siloed approach. The upside for spending this extra time and money is the potential service reuse. The obvious problem with this is that we don’t know how much reuse we’re going to see for this extra time and money. If you spend 30% more but can only reuse 20% of your services (as Gartner predicts), is it worth it? If you end up spending 50% more but are only able to reuse 10% of your services, is it worth it? Where’s the line where it’s no longer worth it to do SOA? Given that there’s no real way to know how much reuse you’re going to see, Erl’s vision of SOA requires a huge leap of faith on the part of the implementer. “Huge leap of faith” doesn’t go so well with “corporate IT department”.

Furthermore, the next IT project I encounter that is willing to invest any additional time and money – much less 30% – in order to achieve some theoretical organizational benefit down the road will be the first. Most projects I’ve encountered (including inside MSIT) sacrifice long term time and money in return for short term gain. When asked how to make this 30% investment happen, Erl suggested that the CIO has to have a “dictatorial” relationship with the projects in the IT shop. I’m thinking that CIO’s that adopt a dictatorial stance won’t get much cooperation from the IT department and will soon be ex-CIO’s.

In the end, I got a lot less out of this workshop than I was hoping to. As long as SO takes 30% more time and money and the primary benefit is the same retread promises of reuse that OO failed to deliver on, I have a hard time imagining SO making much headway.

PS – I have a barely used copy of “Service-Oriented Architecture: Concepts, Technology, and Design” if anyone wants to trade for it. It’s not a red paperclip, but it’s like new – only flipped through once. 😄

OneNote Rocks

I need a better microphone for my laptop, but the ability to record the audio for a meeting and sync that audio with the notes you’re taking is brilliant. I’m using the 2007 version, but I think at least some of this functionality was available in the 2003 version.

del.icio.us Buttons and IE7

I like the del.icio.us Buttons for IE but they don’t work as well with IE7. Or more to the point, IE7 has changed the interface model on del.icio.us. Hopefully, del.icio.us Yahoo! will update the buttons sometime soon.

Basically, IE supports a variety of extensions. On such extension mechanism is a “Browser Extension” (catchy, ain’t it). While I’m sure there are other aspects to Browser Extensions, it puts a button on IE’s main toolbar. An example of a browser extension that I use is Password Scrambler. del.icio.us, in comparison, creates a toolbar with two buttons – one brings up the link post page while the other is a dropdown menu that brings you to various places within del.icio.us. Frankly, I only use the link post button.

The issue is that in IE7, they’ve moved around the main toolbar. Under IE6, I would position the del.icio.us toolbar right after the main toolbar. So it worked out great. Now, in IE7, the main toolbar is now to the right of the tabs. By default, the browser extension buttons aren’t visible, but they are available on the Tools drop down menu. So I don’t have one click access to the Password Scrambler any more, but I do have all those extra commands grouped together. But since del.icio.us has it’s own toolbar, there’s no place really to put it that doesn’t take up screen space. It can’t go on the command bar with the address box and the search box. It can’t go on the command bar with the tabs and the main menu. The only alternative is to have it on a bar by itself, which is a waste of space. Esp. since I only care about the link post button, which would fit nicely on IE7′s new Tools menu.

I investigated what it would take to do it myself, and frankly I’m slammed with much more important things to do. At least, more relevant to my day job. Anyone with a good suggestion here, I’d sure appreciate it.

Update: According to a comment left by britta, the del.icio.us buttons IE7 ready yet and they suggest using these buttons in the meantime. Thanks for the tip, britta!