11 December 2008

Apache ActiveMQ and ServiceMix at Devoxx

This week I delivered a three hour University talk at the Devoxx conference in Antwerp, Belgium. Stephan and his crew really do a great job with the conference. This was my third year in a row to speak at Javapolis/Devoxx and I feel pretty lucky to have had the opportunity to speak there.

The crowd this year was over 3000, but I'm not sure of the exact number as I heard both 3200 and 3600. The speaker's dinner was on Tuesday night and I heard that there were 150 speakers! Geez, that's the lot! I had a great time seeing old friends and meeting lots of new people as well.

If it seems like I'm rambling in this post, it's because I am. I'm writing this from the Memphis airport and I'm incredibly jet-lagged right now. My body clock is going in nine directions right now and I feel a headache coming on. One more flight and I'm home - phew! This was the last scheduled conference for a while. I'm pretty burned out from all the travel lately. This makes the sixth conference I've done since late September and three of those were in the EU. I'm just ready to be home with my family for a while.

07 December 2008

Apache ActiveMQ at SpringOne

Last week I spoke about ActiveMQ at the SpringOne Americas conference in Hollywood, Florida. This was my first time at SpringOne but it was good since it's organized by fellow Coloradan Jay Zimmerman of NFJS fame. Tons of great people, lots of great sessions and I finally got to meet lots of folks from SpringSource.

The hotel was right on the beach so I was fortunate enough to be able to stroll on the beach a couple times. Unfortunately not enough time to go for a swim or rent a wave runner though. The weather was pretty nice while we were there. Compared to the cold spell that blew into Colorado as I was leaving on Wednesday, 70 degrees Fahrenheit was pretty nice.

After the conference Arjen Poutsma and I flew to Amsterdam where I took a train to Antwerp for the Devoxx conference. No sleep on the plane means that I'm gonna be upside down all week - ugh.

21 November 2008

Apache ActiveMQ and ServiceMix at Øredev Conference

This week I am at the Øredev Conference in Malmö, Sweden speaking about ActiveMQ and ServiceMix. The weather here has been quite cold, rainy and windy, but the conference has been great. I've met lots of great people here, many of whom are very passionate about the Scrum development process. Unfortunately I haven't slept much since I've been here (sometimes that happens when I travel internationally) but I have gotten a lot of work completed.

One unique feature of this conference is the keynote talk each morning to start off the day and each one has been very good in topic and delivered by some very entertaining speakers including Ted Neward, James Bach and Robert C. Martin. Another unique offering here has been a track dedicated to development processes, and, as I mentioned, very slanted toward Scrum. I wish I saw this level of passion for the development process at more companies where I've consulted! I've also noticed that every talk has been captured on video (using Macs ;-) ), so I wonder if it will be offered up on the website - hmmmm - I need to ask Michael Tiberg about that.

Some Choice Quotes
Wednesday morning that Ted was speaking, he asked if anyone in the crowd writes perfect concurrent code. As one guy in the nearly 1000 person crowed raised his hand, Ted pointed in his direction and said, 'Aaaahhh, I think we need some mental health professionals over there.'

Today, Bob Martin asked, 'How many people have looked at code and thought, oh I must fix this code, but then you decide not to do it? Because if you fix the code you might break it and if you break it, you own it - ha, ha.'

10 November 2008

New CEO Joins Sonatype

Recently Sonatype hired a new CEO to take the helm. Mark de Visser has a lot of experience working with open source companies as he has held key positions at Zend, Agitar and Red Hat. As noted previously by Matt Asay, Mark joined the team in early October, but it's only recently become fairly recognized.

I had the pleasure of spending some time with Mark back in October and I was impressed with Mark's analytical sense even the first time I met him. I think he's a good fit for the Sonatype crew. He's got a lot of knowledge of the open source world how to do the right kind of marketing in it. This is very important for any startup who is focused on building quality commercial products around open source and Mark's experience in this area is immediately useful.

Sonatype has done a great job with its products so far and they're getting great adoption. Now Mark can help them really get the right marketing message out there and spread further awareness of the company and all that it offers.

Purchased Songs Disappear From iPhone

Just recently I finally broke down and got an iPhone. My old Sony Ericcson T610 was konking out so it was time to buy a new phone anyway. So far I've been very happy with it, even the service from at&t has not been too bad. Being that my old phone was nearly eight years old, having a phone with newer, more easily accessible features is a nice change.

A couple weeks ago I purchased the new album from Ryan Adams and the Cardinals from iTunes on my iPhone. After listening to it for a week or so I sync'd my iPhone with my MacBook Pro only to realize that the entire album disappeared from both the iPhone and iTunes. Upon trying to download it again on my iPhone, I received an error stating that I had already downloaded it, am I sure I want to purchase it again? So I started Googling the problem and much to my amazement this seems to be a fairly widespread issue with the iPhone. I found many folks in the same predicament with no solution whatsoever. The only option is file an issue with Apple about it by selecting the purchase in my iTunes account and clicking a button named Report a Problem.

So far I have received nothing from Apple about the problem I reported and, sadly, I don't expect anything. My solution was to purchase the album a second time and make sure it was backed up by iTunes so I won't lose it again (hopefully).

Has anyone else experienced this and had the situation remedied by Apple in some way?

08 November 2008

ActiveMQ, Camel and ServiceMix at ApacheCon US 2008

I just returned late last night from New Orleans after speaking at the ApacheCon US 2008 conference. I had a great time seeing old friends, attending the conference and exploring the French Quarter with Guillaume, John, Shawna and Jack. Lot's of history throughout the area and the people of New Orleans were very pleasant. I've been to many cities where folks are very nonplussed by your presence, but that's not the case in New Orleans. Everyone was very friendly, forthcoming with information and helpful.

I was at ApacheCon to speak about Apache ServiceMix. Then last weekend I was contacted by my friend Aaron Mulder who informed me that his whole family was ill and he wasn&apost going to make it to the conference so he wondered if I could deliver his talk about Apache ActiveMQ at the conference. So I spent some time putting together the slides and prepared for this talk.

I was scheduled to deliver the two talks on Friday afternoon and I was prepared. Then only 20 minutes before I was to begin speaking, I got a call from my good friend Chris Custine. He was calling me to let me know that he was in the hospital in New Orleans with a herniated disk in his back (ouch!) and wondered if I could cover his talk as well. So I agreed to cover Chris' talk as well, but with a different topic - Apache Camel. Just before Chris' time slot, I explained to the attendees the situation and they were all gracious enough to let me speak about Camel.

In the end, everything went well. I just hope Chris will be OK. I even finally got to meet Joe and Roger from TTM Solutions. I only wish we'd met earlier in the week so we could have spent some more time together.

All three sets of slides have been posted to my SlideShare space.

31 October 2008

New Release of Apache Camel Now Available

The newest release of Apache Camel is now available for download! Grab the binary release as a tarball or a zip now. It includes a big list of improvements and new features driven from the Camel community. This is a great testament to the continuing widespread adoption of Camel.

Just a few of my favorite items include:

There are many, many more items in the full list of improvements, take a peek.

A couple weeks ago I spoke about Camel at the Colorado Software Summit and received a lot of wonderful feedback. Folks at the conference really enjoyed the session, so much that three separate people began writing Camel routes after seeing my session and were really enjoying its simplicity.

28 October 2008

Free Maven, m2eclipse, Nexus and Hudson Training Next Week!

If you want to brush up your skills with Maven, m2eclipse, Nexus and Hudson then you should get to this free training in New Orleans next week!

Brian Fox, Jason van Zyl and I will be in New Orleans for ApacheCon US 2008 next week and are offering a free one-day training in order to gather feedback on the course material. The course is intended for folks already familiar with Maven and will focus on using Maven proficiently with your team, working with Maven in Eclipse via m2eclipse, managing your artifacts with Nexus and automating your build and testing it with Hudson.

The training will be held at the Marriot on Tuesday November 4th from 9am to 4pm. To sign up for the course, please email us at training at sonatype dot com. Availability is on a first come, first served basis so we suggest you sign up quickly.

Everyone is welcome and make sure to bring your laptop!

19 October 2008

Open Source is Free Software - What's Your Opinion as a User?

My friend Greg Wilkins recently wrote a thought-provoking post about free software and open source. I encourage you to go read it, but I also encourage you to think about what it means to YOU. My experience has taught me that it's too easy for those of us who are actually working on open source projects to have a clouded point of view so I'm always very interested in your opinion as a user of open source but not a developer of the open source you use.

Something I found compelling was an analogy posted in the comments by a reader. The following is the quote:

Taking without contributing at all is destructive. My local bank branch is 5 mins walk away. It has free coffee for customers. I am a customer. What happens if I no longer buy coffee at home but get all my coffee from the bank? What if I go a step further and sell the bank's coffee in my coffee shop? Most likely, this will mean no more free coffee in the bank, for anyone. By your logic I didn't do anything wrong. BUT I HAVE PRODUCED A BAD OUTCOME "Everything free" might be a noble aim but how can it work in practice? You fail to consider the practical implications of "take with no give."

While this analogy seems good, it kinda misses the mark slightly. The bank's business model is based on the financial services it provides. The coffee is just a small perk to keep you happy while you are there using the bank's financial services. So the analogy doesn't isn't 100% stable, though I still see the author's point. If you are a consumer of open source and you contribute back in absolutely no way, then the community is said to be at risk. Remember, contributing is as easy as participating in mailing list discussions and filing bugs. That's exactly how I tend to get started with any open source project because the bar for participation is usually pretty low.

Anyway, it's an interesting topic for sure as I've had many of these types of discussions over the years at software conferences, on consulting gigs and even inside the companies where I have worked. What's interesting is very wide range of the points in such a discussion. But I digress...

17 October 2008

seq Unix Utility for MacOS X

Today I needed the seq Unix utility and I discovered that MacOS X does not have it. Neither does MacPorts :-(. So I Googled for it and found that scripting god Dave Taylor (who lives in Boulder) has a blog post about this. He provides a shell script that produces basic seq functionality and it works great. Now I'm able to write quick little one-liners like this:

for i in $(seq 1 10); do cp ~/tmp/cheese.xml ~/tmp/cheese$i.xml; done

Thanks, Dave!

10 October 2008

Me Meme

Idea from Tim.

  1. Take a picture of yourself right now.

  2. Don’t change your clothes, don’t fix your hair…just take a picture. (should be super-easy with Photobooth)

  3. Post that picture with NO editing.

  4. Post these instructions with your picture

07 October 2008

Maven: The Definitive Guide Now Available For Use With Post-Its!

OK, OK, hands up, who likes to litter their technical books with Post-It flags? I've consulted to many companies over the years and every time I'm at a company I can immediately tell where the developer area is located based on the number of Post-Its hanging out of the books.

If you've ever had questions about using Maven, integrating Maven with Eclipse or using a repository manager, then you should grab a copy of Maven: The Definitive Guide from Amazon so you can litter it with those Post-It flags, notes, highlights, etc.

A *lot* of work went into this book and it shows. It was written by many of the folks who created Maven and made it what it is today. So it's full of insider information and examples.

Before blindly purchasing a copy however, I recommend taking a look at the freely available version on the Sonatype website. Although I've suggested the digital version to many, many folks over the last few months, I've heard a fair amount say that they still like to have an actual book. For those that want the actual book to hold, here's your chance!

BTW, check out that link above to the Post-Its. Who knew there were so damn many Post-It products today!

03 October 2008

Register to Vote NOW!!!


Colorado Software Summit Approaching

It looks like the session schedule for the Colorado Software Summit has been made available just yesterday. This is the time where all the speakers figure out where they're speaking slots fall throughout the week.

For those that have never attended, the Software Summit is a yearly software conference in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado in late October. Last year on my drive up, it was a blizzard of snow once I got through the west side of the Eisenhower Tunnel. Of course, the next day all the snow had melted and the weather was beautiful again. That's one reason why I love Colorado :-).

This year I'm speaking about Service Oriented Integration With Apache ServiceMix and Taking Apache Camel for a Ride. Both talks are about integration with Apache projects.

This year Raible and I are sharing a condo with Jason. The dude abides.

25 September 2008

Apple Adds NDA to App Store Rejection Notices

Can you say heavy hand?

I'm not claiming to understand the entire situation, but this certainly seems dodgy.

Thanks to Jonathan Bosmans for pointing this out.

24 September 2008

gPhone or iPhone?

It's time for me to finally replace my trusty Sony Ericsson t610 and these are the two options I'm considering.

I've put off getting an iPhone because I was waiting for the 3G but even now that it's out my fears of switching to at&t still stand. I've heard from friends how awful at&t is in so many ways so I'm reluctant to switch. And then, along comes the G1 from T-Mobile - my wireless carrier!

I see that Crazy Bob has a gPhone already. The quality of the photos from the camera looks great, but the camera is not a major concern for me.

I'm curious to hear any opinions one way or the other.

Update: Is it just me, or are these statements about Google products not competing with Apple products a bit ridiculous? How else are these products to be viewed?

Just as with Google's Chrome browser, the G1 phone press releases state that it's not being positioned to compete with Apple products. I find this statement ludicrous. How can these items not compete with Apple products? This is like saying I have created a new car that gets 100mpg but the car is not competing with GM or Ford. Perception is reality. Just as I'm looking for a new phone, many people are looking for a new car and most logical people will compare and contrast some vehicles just as I'm comparing and contrasting the iPhone with the G1.

To date, the iPhone is one of the few mobile devices that touts Google services. Also, offering the Amazon music store app is in direct competition with Apple's iTunes integration for the iPhone. Additionally, the Android Market is a direct point of competition with Apple's App Store.

Wayne has pointed out a good comparison of the G1 with the iPhone if you're interested. I've read much about the G1 lately and I must say that the iPhone still has many small advantages over it, though I'm sure in time the playing field will be leveled further. After all, this is the first generation for the very first Android-based mobile phone.

Update 2: As much as I am a fan of Apple products and have been since 1990, the evictions of competing applications from the App Store is disconcerting to say the least. When I first heard that Apple was actively going after enterprise customers, I began to wonder if this the beginning of the end for the Apple we know and love. Going so far as to tell owners of rejected apps that the rejection itself is under NDA is definitely stepping over the line. Leave it to the corporate lawyers to fuck up everything. I've gotta say that this has left a very bad taste in my mouth.

20 September 2008

Comparing Mobile Voicemail Solutions

After using CallWave for about a year, the free beta test of its service is ending, so I'm reviewing other competing services.

CallWave handles mobile voicemail so that instead of leaving a message on my mobile carrier's provided voicemail, callers unknowingly are leaving their message with CallWave instead. I simply keyed in a simple code to tell my mobile carrier to use CallWave's voicemail instead. I started using this solution because I was missing too many calls from being out of range of mobile service. Not only does CallWave notify me via email and SMS when I get a voicemail, but it also handles voice-to-text (although not very well) and lets me listen to the message online via the CallWave website. To upgrade to a non-beta account is $5/month which isn't much but I'm also already paying $10/month for CallWave's fax to PDF service.

Grand Central offers a similar set of features and it's free but it makes you get a new phone number. I've had this same phone number for eight years and too many folks know it. I'm not getting a new phone number just for unified messaging. Grand Central should be able to use my existing phone number. Can anyone confirm that this is not a requirement?

Spinvox seems to be one alternative, but it seems to be focused on the voice-to-text conversion but I'm not so keen on that feature really. What I need is mainly voicemail notification.

Voicenation requires you to get a new number (or so it seems) and is much more about providing a PBX service. Again, not something I need.

Just recently I signed up with YouMail because it seems to focus on exactly what I need and it's basic service is free (and they claim it will remain free). I just keyed in a special code to tell my mobile carrier to use YouMail's voicemail instead of the carrier's provided voicemail and voila. I'm just starting to get used to it but it seems to provide what I need so far. YouMail offers pre-recorded messages that you can buy to use for your various greetings are funny. My favorite is titled, 'No one wants to buy your shit (for solicitors).'

18 September 2008

Camels and Llamas at JavaZone in Norway

Yesterday I spoke about Apache Camel at the JavaZone conference here in Oslo, Norway and I was able to sneek some more funny images into my presentation. As Dan Diephouse, Jason van Zyl, Kirk Pepperdine, Geert Bevin, John Davies and I were working on our slides for our talks, we got some good laughs from the images we found including the llama car shown here. We all especially liked the bungy cord holding all five llamas onto the roof.

We also found a camel in a truck, three camels in a truck among many more images that I really shouldn't show here.

I was in Denmark a couple years ago speaking at another conference and I'm finding the weather here in Norway is very similar to Denmark (big surprise). I wish I wasn't flying out so soon so that I had time to go sight-seeing and do some exploration.

11 September 2008

JavaPolis >> Javoxx >> Devoxx

In yet another bitter twist of irony from the machine that is Sun, it has bitten the hand that feeds yet again by forcing BeJUG to rebrand its wildly successful European Java conference for the second time!

First Sun said JavaPolis had to change its name so it rebranded itself as Javoxx. Now Sun has decided that Javoxx must change its name so it has been rebranded Devoxx. What's truly ironic about this whole episode is that Sun is a platinum sponsor of the conference! Demonstrating yet again that Sun is an interloper.

I'm very happy to see the conference continue and not let this trip up anything. Stephan and his group have definitely taken these hits with class. Rock on BeJUG!

09 September 2008

Nexus Not Finding Artifacts After Adding a Repository?

In my last post about Nexus, I provided some steps to get started quickly using Nexus. After adding some additional repositories, I found that Nexus doesn't always immediately handle the indexes as it should causing some builds to not be able to locate certain artifacts, so I took the following measures to rectify the situation.

After adding some repositories, sometimes I had to clear the cache for the public groups and reindex them using the following steps:

  1. Under the Views section, click on Browse Repositories

  2. Right-click on the Public Repositories group and select Clear Cache

  3. Right-click on the Public Repositories group and select Reindex

  4. Right-click on the Public Snapshot Repositories group and select Clear Cache

  5. Right-click on the Public Snapshot Repositories group and select Reindex

After following the steps above, Nexus happily reindexed the repositories I added and artifacts were located successfully.

At one point, I also had to manually publish the indexes for the public groups using the following steps:

  1. Under the Administration section, click Scheduled Tasks

  2. Click the Add button

  3. Give the task a name

  4. Task Type is Publish Indexes

  5. Repository/Group is Public Repositories (Group)

  6. Recurrance is Once

Upon doing this manual step, Nexus again started humming along.

Badger Badger Badger

Every once in a great while my youngest daughter requests that we watch 'the badger snake cartoon on your computer'. I haven't gotten this request in a quite a long time but this morning was one of those times. Although I'm sure most folks have seen it, I just had to blog about it.

I remember playing this in the Netscape browser from the command line on someone's Linux machine as a prank at a past company. I seem to recall an option to the command that tells the UI not to come up, so the song would drive them nuts and the only way to stop it is to find the process and kill it :-).

05 September 2008

Sprayed By a Skunk... Again!

In my family, we have two dogs. Each one is three years old, each one is a mutt that we got from a puppy rescue for my kids' birthdays, each one is about 100lbs, but one of them aims to please and is relatively smart while the other one is just a big, dumb teddy bear.

Over the last year, we moved house and discovered that there are many wild animals around the property. Luckily we have an invisible fence to keep the dogs from leaving the yard. Most of these animals have learned to simply stay away when the dogs are out, but the foxes like to taunt the dogs by staying just out of reach (hence the phrase, crazy like a fox). But one of the animals doesn't stay away, quite possibly due to arrogance - skunks.

So far, the two dogs have been sprayed by skunks together on two occasions. However, over the last month, the big, dumb teddy bear has been sprayed two more times on his own - what an idiot! I'm hoping that after being sprayed four times he'll learn. Fat chance I figure.

The first time it happened I googled all over looking for a remedy to clean the stink and found way too many answers and claims. So I contacted my friend Jeff who has had experience with this issue with his dogs. Jeff lives in the mountains and his dogs had been sprayed by skunks a few times, too, so I figured he had a solution that worked. Luckily he was able to recommend a recipe of baking soda, vinegar and Dawn dish washing liquid. I can tell you to this day it works like a charm - as long as you can stomach the stench for a bit while you're scrubbing!

A Decade of the Dude

For a movie that bombed at the box office, The Big Lebowski has done astoundingly well on DVD raking in $40 million as well as generating a cult following like no other from its generation. And with a 10th anniversary, limited-edition of the DVD due out this month, fans of the Dude proclaim, 'Far out, man.'

I can't believe that the Dude turns 10 this year because it sure doesn't seem to have been that long. A Decade of the Dude briefly recounts the Dude's escapades and the phenomenon that is the Dude in a manner that serves all the actors in the movie well. An interview with Bridges even caused the Dude's sweater to come out of hiding for a moment. For fans of the Dude, this article is well worth the 10 minute read.

I remember seeing The Big Lebowski in the theatre with my wife when it first came out and I thought it was hilarious; she thought it was goofy and kind shrugged it off. For my close friends and I, this movie unites us. We see it at the Boulder Theatre twice a year and anytime we talk with one another at least two or three quotes from Lebowski make it into the conversation.

The Dude represents everything that our uptight society needs today and it couldn't have been said better than Philip Seymour Hoffman, the brilliant actor who played Brandt, the wealthy Lebowski's obsequious personal assistant:

'The Dude abides, and I think that's something people really yearn for, to be able to live their life like that. You can see why young people would enjoy that.'

Ah, fuck it, Dude. Let's go bowlin.

27 August 2008

m2eclipse Loves Test Reports

Just a quick note about developing with m2eclipse and how much easier it makes tasks. When running tests in Eclipse, m2e now creates a link to the surefire report for quick access. See the image above for a screenshot. This is so much better than using cat or less from the command line because it just saves time (and I love the command line!). A single click v. typing many keys to view the report - rockin.

Thanks, Eugene ;-).

Live Coding Collaboration With Eclipse - Wow!

You've got to check out this video that demonstrates the a shared coding session using the Eclipse Communication Framework. This is amazing! They're editing the same class concurrently and changes are reflected in real time without saving!

I have often longed for the ability to collaborate with others beyond just commit/update via SVN with folks. In the past I've tried a multiplexing X server in Linux and SubEthaEdit for MacOS X, but neither is ideal. Given that so many people use Eclipse for writing code these days, this is exactly what we need. Now I just need to convince someone to install it and take it for a spin ;-).

26 August 2008

Do You Use Maven? If So, You Need Nexus

If you use Maven for your development or you manage a Maven repository inside your company then you need a Maven repository manager and Nexus is hands-down the best choice. Today Sonatype announced the release of Nexus 1.0, the easiest to use, enterprise-ready Maven repository manager.

Nexus serves as a proxy between your organization and public Maven repositories and as an easy-to-use deployment target for your own, possible commerical artifacts.

Nexus acts as a cache of artifacts between your organization and any public Maven repository. This means that artifacts and their dependencies only need to be downloaded once. I run Nexus locally on my laptop for this purpose and after the first download of artifacts, my builds sped up tremendously. I've done this since it was called Proximity because it works very well.

A shared, internal Maven repository inside of a company can be a very efficient way to share snapshots and releases of internal projects. Using Nexus dramatically simplifies this task and saves large amounts of time and effort.

Start Using Nexus in Minutes

If you want to speed up your Maven builds, follow these steps:

  1. Download Nexus

  2. Start up Nexus ($NEXUS_HOME/bin/nexus start)

  3. Drop this settings.xml in your ~/.m2/ directory

  4. Perform a Maven build

You might need to add more repositories to Nexus, but it's a cakewalk! Trust me, Nexus will simplify your use of Maven.

24 August 2008

On Multi-Ignoring

We all do it, some better than others but I have yet to see anyone who has perfected it - multi-tasking. So I've always referred to multi-tasking as multi-ignoring. Well it seems that Merlin Mann has found someone who thinks the same way. For those not willing the click through, here's the quote:

Multitasking is the art of distracting yourself from two things you'd rather not be doing by doing them simultaneously.

This pretty much sums it up. I say pretty much because I know that I have been guilty of multi-ignoring when I have way too many tasks to handle. That doesn't happen to me so much these days, but I've gone through periods in the past where this just doesn't seem to stop. The other thing that pushes me into this state are constant interruptions. Being interrupted multiple times every hour can make even the most productive person start to do this. That's when you either:

  • A. Log off IRC and IM and just go dark for a few days to get it all done ;-), OR

  • B. Throw it in the bit bucket - /ignore

Tim's latest comment inspired me to update this post regarding some things that author Neal Stephenson said about the process of writing and Merlin Mann blogged about.

Concentration when writing is so important. I think that Neal Stephenson explained it best when he said the following:

Writing novels is hard, and requires vast, unbroken slabs of time. Four quiet hours is a resource that I can put to good use. Two slabs of time, each two hours long, might add up to the same four hours, but are not nearly as productive as an unbroken four. If I know that I am going to be interrupted, I can’t concentrate, and if I suspect that I might be interrupted, I can’t do anything at all. Likewise, several consecutive days with four-hour time-slabs in them give me a stretch of time in which I can write a decent book chapter, but the same number of hours spread out across a few weeks, with interruptions in between them, are nearly useless.

Check it out via Merlin Mann's blog post series about Neal Stephenson's comments.

23 August 2008

from(Keynote 4).to(Powerpoint 2008).sucks()

See this kid here? This is what Powerpoint 2008 told me today after exporting a presentation from Keynote 4.x and attempting to open it in Powerpoint.

I was pretty concerned, but certainly not out of ideas. So I began to Google and found that others were also experiencing the issue, and I discovered that manually removing all the presenter notes from the presentation worked around the issue. This was good news - yay! The bad news was that I had nearly 400 slides in the presentation with notes in nearly half of the slides :-(.

Lesson learned: Until Apple fixes Keynote to export to the Powerpoint 2008 format properly or Powerpoint 2008 can open the Powerpoint 2004 format without crashing, don't put notes in your Keynote presentations.

For those who don't know, the API-like title is taken from the Apache Camel API for message routing and mediation.

17 August 2008

VMware Appliance Marketplace to the Rescue

Recently I blogged about trouble with shared folders and VMWare and now I've run into it again! Previously I was working with CentOS 5.1 and now I've installed a newer copy of Ubuntu on my MacBook only to discover that folder sharing would not work at all. After searching around a bit, I found some info stating that this was an issue with the commercial version of the VMWare tools and that the open source VMWare tools has fixed the issue. I'm usually not deterred by such solutions at all, but in this case, my install of Ubuntu was plain vanilla and I just need it for testing. So I decided to grab an install from the VMWare Appliance Marketplace.

So I just grabbed an image of Ubuntu 8.04 Desktop with VMware Tools preinstalled (I figured I'd forgo the misery this time). Upon registering with VMWare to download appliances, I was taken to the website of the person who is actually offering the image for download, downloaded the image via bit torrent and had the image up and running in no time.

Until recently I wasn't aware of the VMWare Appliance Marketplace. This is similar in concept to the public and freely available OS images available on Amazon EC2 (e.g., On EC2 I have successfully used the Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Base Install). Why spend the time installing and configuring Linux distributions that I'm simply using for testing? My only requirement is Java and some Java-based tools like Ant and Maven. So there's no reason for me to waste time on a custom install when I can download, run and go. So now I've used preconfigured images on both Amazon EC2 and VMWare successfully and I definitely will again. What a time saver!

08 August 2008

Michael Franti and Spearhead at the Fox in Boulder

On Wednesday night Raible, Matt and me saw Michael Franti and Spearhead at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO. I've seen them now seven or eight times in the last few years and they never disappoint!

After dinner at the Centro Latin Kitchen, we headed to the hill to find parking around the Fox and get in to the see the show. On the way over, I heard a live performance on the radio by a band named Pictures & Sound that was very good. I recognized the band leader from his days in Blue Merle. Upon arriving at the Fox and navigating the sold out crowd to get a spot on the floor, I told the Matts about Pictures & Sound. Then about 10 minutes later, that very band appeared on stage and played their set to open for Spearhead! Ha! I guess I should've paid better attention to the giant marquee out front with the band names on it - LOL!

Needless to say, Michael Franti and Spearhead are a force! Every time I've seen them perform, they are in top form. While their recorded music is fantastic, seeing them live is soooooo much better. If you get a chance to hear them or see them, I highly, highly recommend it.

07 August 2008

VMware Fusion 1.1.2 Shared Folders Issue

I just spent the last hour screwing around with VMWare Fusion 1.1.2 on MacOS X trying to get Shared Folders working. As VMWare booted Linux I'd see the message 'Mounting HGFS shares: [FAILED]'. I ran the vmware-config-tools.pl script and nothing changed. I rebooted the VM and nothing changed. So I began searching for other experiencing this issues.

After Googling around quite a bit, I located this forum discussion about how this is actually a bug that is fixed in 1.1.3. After uninstalling 1.1.2 and installing 1.1.3, the one catch was that I needed to install the newer version of the VMWare Tools. After doing this the I also had to install a newer version of the VMWare Tools (Virtual Machine->Install VMWare Tools). It simply offered a newer version so I installed it and ran the configure script again and finally saw the 'Mounting HGFS shares: [OK]' message - yay!

Now after nearly an hour of screwing around with this, it's back to work :-(.

ActiveMQ In Action - Free Chapters Available

If you're a user of Apache ActiveMQ then ActiveMQ In Action will be of interest to you. Not only because we're really focused on helping folks understand and use ActiveMQ, but also because Manning is offering early access to the chapter FOR FREE!

Recently Rob Davies, Dejan Bosanac and myself have embarked on writing a book about Apache ActiveMQ. The first few chapters are now available via the Manning Early Access Program in PDF form with more to come throughout the next few months. These chapters are raw and straight from the authoring/editing cycle so you're really getting an early look into them. There's even a forum for discussion of the book where you can ask questions and make suggestions if you have any.

And Now a Rant on the Writing Process...

It has been fun writing this book so far because we're not using a word processor - yay! When drawing up the proposal for the book, we agreed to utilize DocBook for writing the book. For this purpose, I believe all three of us have wound up using the XMLMind XML Editor because it supports DocBook so well. With the help of an article titled Getting Productive with XMLMind, so far it has been a pleasant experience.

This is a big departure from the other books I've written which were for other publishers and the writing process was very focused on the editors instead of authors. With the first three books I wrote, I was required to use Microsoft Word because that's what tool all of the editors used. The experience of many back-and-forth editing sessions with many people only helped me loath using Word even more. The usability of Word is just not very productive, especially once the document is so incredibly littered with change tracking and comments that it's barely readable. And it's binary format is a real pain in the ass because it can't be diffed or versioned easily.

The processes I've used with Word were really a dead end because once the document is in the Word format, it can't be easily transformed into other formats for the benefit of the technical authors. This is what caused a productivity nightmare for the authors because there was no real round-trip authoring/editing cycle because of this. There are only two solutions to this problem and neither of the publishers were willing to make any changes:

  1. Transform the Word doc to another format at every cycle of the authoring/editing cycle - This is a real non-starter because too much information is lost in the transformation and wouldn't make it out of or back into the Word format. IMO, this is where all word processors fail because the editing information is so tightly tied to the content itself. This is exactly why I like using diff and patch so much and why I write most things in just plain text of some sort. Diffs are completely separate from the source but patch is smart enough to semantically match many things. (If you're not familiar with diff and patch and you're interested, see something like Comparing and Merging Files with GNU diff and patch).

  2. Change the way the editors work, i.e., no more use of Word for editing - This is usually not workable because of the time, effort and cost involved with re-training editors in using different tools.

However, much to my surprise, Manning has already taken the second path I mentioned above! Its editors are perfectly OK with us using DocBook as the content format for the book and they even use XMLMind themselves. Unfortunately the content management system we use for authoring leaves a lot to be desired, but that's a different rant ;-).

As much as XMLMind is still a separate tool requiring point-and-click (I like my hands to stay on the keyboard which is why I'm a VIM nut), I've found it to be much more productive than Word already. I think in large part this is due to the fact that it doesn't have nearly as many bells and whistles as Word therefore there's just less crap in the document. XMLMind is very focused on the content and less focused on the eye candy which I really like - a tool that more or less stays out of your way.

If you've read this far into my rant, I congratulate you. This topic is near to me because I've spent so much time writing and putting together presentations in the last few years mainly using processes and tools that just aggravated the shit out of me. I could go on and on about this topic but for now I'll spare you the details. I know that Jason and I have discussed this at length in the past because it has affected us so much. Maybe I'll continue this later in a separate entry another time.

05 August 2008

A Simple Time Tracker for MacOS X

I didn't have to hunt very far for a simple time tracker for MacOS X before finding one named Time Tracker for the Mac. It tracks the time you spend on tasks and projects. Simple and exact ;-).

25 July 2008

WTF?! Microsoft Becomes a Platinum ASF Sponsor?

When you were growing up I'm sure you knew some kid who always seemed to have the cruelest intentions. S/he always possessed ulterior motives, trying to better her/his social position using lies and deceit veiled by declarations of pure intentions. Yet, in the end, they'd just wind up screwing people yet again leaving them feeling like fools for actually wanting to believe that s/he may have actually changed her/his ways. Well this is kinda what I'm feeling right now, just waiting for the punchline.

I found out about this announcement early this morning and yet I'm still perplexed to discover that Microsoft has become a platinum sponsor of the Apache Software Foundation. I certainly trust the folks at the ASF who made this happen, but I can't let go of Microsoft's past FUD against open source and Linux so easily (remember the 'Get the Facts' campaign?). Has the poor behavior and shady tactics surrounding the ISO <quote>approval</quote> of OOXML as an international standard already been forgotten? This move really smells of a distraction and a method of getting the open source community to assist Microsoft in leveling (and eventually tipping) the playing field in the Windows v. Linux battle. A brilliant move, really - let's pay the folks we're trying to beat so that they will help us beat them.

Of course, I don't discount the fact that someone can turn over a new leaf - and I really would like this to be the case. I just hope that the fox has not been let into the henhouse bearing a bucket of grain.

24 July 2008

A Brief Look at Everything2, Wikipedia, About.com, Freebase, Squidoo, GoogleBase and Google Knol

First there was Everything2, a Perl-MySQL Web Content-Management System to create a flexible system of entering, linking, and retrieving information. I remember first discovering this system when I still read Slashdot sooooooo long ago. Cool idea, less concerned with being an authoritative reference and more about being a sounding board for anyone who is interested in writing about a given topic. Everything2 was developed by the same guys who developed Slashdot which is why the Perl/MySQL solution was used. It offers a simple search mechanism for discovering nodes.

Next came Wikipedia, a multilingual, Web-based, free content encyclopedia project whose articles provide links to guide the user to related pages with additional information. Wikipedia was born out of Nupedia which was an effort to create a new encyclopedia via an elaborate system of peer review that required highly qualified contributors. Wikipedia threw out most of the formalities of qualifications and peer review became a staple due to the high amount of collaboration. Still, Wikipedia is most interested in information that is worthy of notice. Wikipedia also offers a primitive search mechanism for locating information. Wikipedia also prides itself on the anonymity of its content creators.

About.com provides it's own information that is managed by its guides, people who have the credentials and experience to back up knowledge. Guides must also have professional writing experience in your area of expertise. It's a unique set of qualifications, but About.com actually pays its guides to author the content. About.com offers a lot of information but it is owned by the New York Times Company which gives it a really commercialized feel. Where Wikipedia definitely has an encyclopedic approach to its information, About.com has a very consumeristic bend to its content.

Then Freebase came about an open database of the world’s information by drawing information from large open data sets like Wikipedia, MusicBrainz, and the SEC, it contains structured information on many popular topics, like movies, music, people and locations—all reconciled and freely available via it's own open API and Metaweb Query Language. Freebase also offers a Javascript template language named the Metaweb Javascript Template Language (MJT) billed as an in-browser web framework.

[Interestingly, a company named Powerset developed its own search technology focused on aggregating, summarizing and navigating information and it's first focus to showcase its technology was a combination of content from Wikipedia and Freebase. (Earlier this month, it was announced that Microsoft acquired Powerset.)]

Another player in this space is Squidoo offering its own set of information authored by anyone. Squidoo has mulitple goals listed on its website including it's goal as a platform is to bring the power of recommendation to search; it's goal as a co-op is to pay as much money as we can to our lensmasters and to charity, and it's goal as a community is to have fun along the way, and meet new ideas and the people behind them. So it pays its authors and charities and promotes having fun authoring content and recommending it.

The first offering from Google was GoogleBase as a way to describe your information to make it as easy as possible for people to find when they search. In other words, enter your information and make it part of the Google-verse. Oddly, this seems to overlap with Google Knol.

Now comes Google Knol, a system for creating authoritative articles about a specific topic. Knol seems to be somewhere in between Everything2 and Wikipedia but it removes anonymity from the picture by requiring information creators to have a Google account. Knol is yet another way for Google to exploit its business of content-targeted ads.

So how do these information systems differ? IMO they really don't differ much in what they seek to provide, they only differ in their implementation. Each one seems to store and make it's information available in it's own, unique way. So to compare and contrast each one, I searched for the string 'Boulder, Colorado'. Below are links to the results.

Boulder, Colorado on Everything2 returned a spartan amount of information.

Boulder, Colorado on Wikipedia produced the most information out of any of these systems.

Boulder, Colorado on About.com.

Boulder, Colorado on Freebase.

Boulder, Colorado on Squidoo produced no content.

Boulder, Colorado on GoogleBase produced the results in the same format used by Google Shopping and other Google properties.

Boulder, Colorado on Google Knol rendered nothing.

The bottom line is that all of the sites I mention here are focused on organizing and providing information. The quality of the information must be good, but that's only a contributing factor, IMO. If the quality of the information is good, the real differentiating factor is the value-add around the edges. And right now the biggest value-add seems to be how the information is offered to be discovered by users. They all have their own way of attacking the problem.

Wikipedia offers the best content quality hands down. This is surely due to the high amount of collaboration at Wikipedia and the Wikipedia community's ability to police it's content so incredibly well. Each entry is typically fairly well-rounded and has been contributed to by multiple people - the wisdom of the crowd at its finest.

Freebase is more interesting to me because it offers an API for accessing the data (and because I'm a software engineer, I'm biased on that front) but Freebase can't shake a stick at the content offered by Wikipedia. Freebase is also not the best at presentation.

Even though Powerset is not a content creator, it's ability to aggregate data and present it to users in a more meaningful manner is probably the most compelling just because it's the most usable by far. But not that many people have even heard of Powerset and how that it's been swallowed by Microsoft, it may never be heard from again (unless Microsoft leaves it untouched to continue to do what it does).

Google certainly has the most marketing power and its dominance in so many other web properties gives it a leg up. But it's content breadth and depth is sorely lacking currently. Maybe it will catch up over time.

Which one will prevail? Your guess is as good as mine. Competition is a good thing ;-).

16 July 2008

Live From Daryl's House

Last night I flipped on the TV to catch the last 20 minutes of the Conan O'Brien show (IMO, Conan is a comedic genius). As it turned out, Daryl Hall (of Hall and Oates fame in the 1980s) played with KT Tunstall and the performance was really good. As Conan ended, he announced that Daryl has a website where he posts live performances called Live From Daryl's House. So I checked it out immediately and was blown away at the quality of the music.

I really dig live music. I enjoy it because it's an opportunity to see true musicians play raw music without the assistance of studio affects and mixing to perfection before it's heard. I refer to this as an opportunity because I've been disappointed by some musician's who turned out to be really shitty in a live setting. At any rate, Daryl's voice is as good as it's ever been, maybe better, and his band is great. The quality of the music and videos on his website is stellar (despite the damn Flash player being somewhat choppy).

Anyone who enjoyed Hall and Oates back in the early 80s will enjoy Daryl playing some familiar songs from that era as well as some new stuff. What's more, you can download the music for US$.99 per track!

Eclipse Maven Integration Using m2eclipse


Recently I authored a chapter in Maven: the Definitive Guide. The chapter I wrote is about Maven integration with Eclipse using m2eclipse, an Eclipse plugin for Maven. I really enjoyed writing this chapter because it allowed me to dig into m2e and understand more about what is really there today. In short, I was blown away!

m2e has come a long way since I last tried it out a couple years ago. Since that time, it has become so feature rich that there's little need for me to use Maven on the command line anymore. Being that I'm a command line freak because of the power and control it offers, I wasn't thrilled about staying in the IDE to build everything. But I commend Eugene and company on the features and polish in m2e today. In fact, I'm already finding it difficult to live without. If you haven't tried out m2eclipse, read through the article and try it out now. Believe me, you'll be very satisfied!

Additonally, we also just published an article based on the m2e chapter titled Introduction to m2eclipse. This chapter is focused on getting m2e installed and showcasing its major features and should help folks get started with it quickly. Unfortnately, in the time it took for the TheServerSide to publish the article, m2e has gotten more new features and the Maven book chapter has been updated significantly.

BTW, you can also buy a published copy of the Maven book from O'Reilly Media, though I'm not quite sure I'd recommend it for one reason. The updates to the book chapters are coming at such a rapid pace that a printed book will be out of date the day you buy it. Besides, I'm not a huge fan of paper books that simply grow out of date really fast. But if you like a printed book in hand, buy away ;-).

12 July 2008

Integration as a Service

Back at LogicBlaze, we had a product idea for a SOA and messaging appliance with management and monitoring software that could be installed at a customer site. We called this idea LogicBlades because we were talking about using blade servers. I still think this would be a compelling solution for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) for a lot of reasons. But it would probably require an operations team for offering a service on top of the appliance for monitoring, software updates, etc.

Well, call it a missed opportunity because there are already a bunch of companies in this space including Forum Systems' Forum Sentry, Dajeil XML Acceleration Hardware, Vordel XML and SOA Appliances, IBM WebSphere DataPower SOA Appliances (is every product at IBM somehow linked to WebSphere?!) and Cisco's SONA product line just to name a few.

The even hotter portion of this space involves the inclusion of virtualization with the SOA offering. Vordel is in this space as well, Layer 7 Technologies, TIBCO and IBM is also here with virtualized partitions on servers. Suffice it to say that this market is being attacked.

(I don't have the time to comprehensively research all companies in this space so I'm sure I've missed a few.)

Now, British Telecom is throwing its hat into the ring with a slightly different offering. BT is providing integration as a service with its new managed application and data-integration service in the UK for a 'pay-as-you-grow' service. The solution consists of a hardware appliance running a hardened Linux with the Sonic ESB and iWay connectors. But the BT product not installed at the customer site. Instead it's installed in a BT ops facility where BT handles all the management and monitoring. So this solution is really a hosted service instead of something that customers install on-site. From the BT point of view, this is certainly an easier product to manage. Trying to manage remote appliances at customer sites can be an utter nightmare. Still, an on-site solution seems like a larger opportunity if you offer the customer the management and monitoring software for their own use along with training and professional services.

It still seems like there is lots of opportunity in this space, especially for customers who are not willing to bet the farm on big dollar products from big companies and for companies who can innovate further.

11 July 2008

Pandora For the iPhone

I already love Pandora and it's concept of radio stations based on artists you already like, but Pandora's Streaming Radio App for iPhone sounds even better and yet another reason to get an iPhone.

According to the Wired article, you can bookmark songs to your profile, purchase songs from iTunes or even ask Pandora why it chose a particular song. For those that don't know, Pandora was instrumental in creating the Music Genome Project:

A given song is represented by a vector containing approximately 150 genes. Each gene corresponds to a characteristic of the music, for example, gender of lead vocalist, level of distortion on the electric guitar, type of background vocals, etc. Rock and pop songs have 150 genes, rap songs have 350, and jazz songs have approximately 400. Other genres of music, such as world and classical, have 300-500 genes. The system depends on a sufficient number of genes to render useful results. Each gene is assigned a number between 1 and 5, and fractional values are allowed but are limited to half integers.

When I first read about the Music Genome Project, I was immediately intrigued because it's all about the science behind music. This drove me to try out Pandora right away and I've been very happily using it ever since. That was back in 2003, IIRC.

This all culminates with the the fact that I don't have an iPhone... yet. So far I've put off purchasing an iPhone because I've heard horror stories about at&t coverage and customer service. Besides, I've been with T-Mobile for years and despite experiencing bad coverage where I live, I get great service almost everywhere else and especially in the EU without changing anything on my phone. So I still like the service. And there's always the possibility of still using the iPhone with a provider other than at&t ;-).

I've also been waiting for the 3G iPhone to be released, which is happening today all over the world with major fanfare. It looks like Apple has yet another major hit on its hands.

Update: It looks like the 3G iPhone release has been plagued with issues on the iTunes server-side, though there doesn't seem to be much detail about the issue yet, especially regarding a solution. :-(

Dead Simple JMS

What if working with JMS were as easy as working with a filesystem? This would allow using JMS to become as familiar as files on the filesystem, using all the tools you're already comfortable using. Well it appears that Adam Turnbull has made this a reality.

Adam made use of the FUSE (Filesystem in Userspace) and it's cousin FUSE-J to map JMS queues to the filesystem. He's asking if anyone would be interested in him open sourcing it. I'd definitely like to get my hands on it for experimentation and use with Apache ActiveMQ and to try it out with macfuse. Whatta ya say, Adam?

As for the name, my suggestion is the title of this blog entry.

09 July 2008

Unable to Access GMail This Morning

This morning when attempting to log into GMail I was met with the screenshot you see here telling me that and upstream system is having issues via the old HTTP 502 status code.

Interestingly I seem to be experiencing more and more issues with the Ajaxy stuff in GMail recently such as inability to access the inbox or a message, inability to refresh, inability to log into chat, etc. These issues always seem to manifest themselves via lots of loooooooooooooong pauses and the yellow status messages at the top of the pages stating 'Loading...' More recently I've taken to logging out of GMail and signing back in and the problems almost always are immediately gone then. This tells me that there must be a lot of caching in the GMail web app or long timeouts or both.

Is anyone else seeing this error or experiencing problems such as these?

30 June 2008

Denver Mayor Proclaims Widespread Panic Day in Denver

Matt Good and I saw Widespread Panic at RedRocks on Friday night - what a blast! That's the first time I've seen them and although I was tired from the week, I was impressed.

We showed up about an hour early and entered the amphitheater about 45 minutes before the show started and boy were we surprised. There were tarps *everywhere* and they were taped down with duct tape! We'd never seen this before, how strange. As we weaved all around and worked our way upward through all the tarps and the people looking for seats, we happened upon a section of bench about 10 or 15 feet long where there were no tarps. We asked a dude sitting there if the seats were available and he responded by pointing his finger at us, 'Do you have a tarp?!' We both said no and he said, 'Then sit down - this is the non-tarpers' zone.' We were stoked, as were the people sitting next to us for having found some more non-tarpers.

The band played two sets and the second was even better than the first! And Friday was only the first night, as Widespread Panic played for three consecutive nights (Fri/Sat/Sun), all of which were sold out.

Evidently Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper even declared Friday 27 June to be Widespread Panic day in the city and county of Denver for having played 32 consecutively sold out shows at RedRocks Amphiteater. Awesome!

27 June 2008

Service Oriented Integration Talk from Javapolis 2007 Posted

It looks like my talk from Javapolis 2007 titled Service Oriented Integration With Apache ServiceMix was posted on the Parleys website for anyone who's interested. This presentation talks about the definition of an Enterprise Service Bus, Java Business Integration, Apache ServiceMix 3, a little bit of Apache Camel and some info about Apache ServiceMix 4. It also shows a somewhwat basic app that wires together various JBI components to demonstrate how apps are built with ServiceMix. So if you are interested in a simple app this might help you.

Notice that Javapolis has changed it's name and it's logo and is now Javoxx. According to Stefan, the concept is the same and the great conference and events surrounding it will continue at the Metropolis in Antwerp (what a great city!).

09 June 2008

Apple Announces MobileMe

Along with the 3G iPhone announcement, Apple also announced MobileMe, a service to automatically keep your iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac and PC in sync.

This service looks really nice but I wonder about the data plan being offered seems to be quite small. For $99/year you get 20GB of storage space and 200GB of data transfer. An additional 20GB of storage can be added for $49/year and 40GB of storage for $99/year. I suppose the storage needs to be limited because the iPhone storage is so small. Which begs the question, can I flag certain items so that they won't be sync'd to certain devices?

Anyway, there's a guided tour video here that spells it all out.

3G iPhone Announced With GPS

It looks like Apple has announced the 3G iPhone and it contains GPS. I've been holding off on buying an iPhone, waiting for the 3G announcement. I suspected that the price would drop, more features would be added and I had hoped that more service providers might be added.

The new iPhone will be priced as $200 for the 8GB model and $300 for the 16GB model, considerably less than the first generation iPhones, but I was surprised that more storage was not added. Unfortunately at&t is still the only service provider in the U.S :-(. That's the one big thing that causes me to pause on buying one.

What are your experiences with an iPhone and at&t? Also, what about roaming charges for international travelers?

07 June 2008

Big Head Todd and the Monsters at Red Rocks

Tonight Raible, our buddy Matt and I are doing our annual ride out to Red Rocks Amphitheater in the foothills to see Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Every year BHTM plays Red Rocks in June and we ride our road/mountain bikes out there for the show.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love live music and I'm lucky enough to see a good amount of it here in Colorado. What's more, this is a great time of year to be out riding in Colorado because the weather is just about perfect. Of course, the scenery is always awesome with the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in plain view. And good music at Red Rocks during sundown with great friends is always a good thing!

06 June 2008

Gonzo Movie Out on July 4th

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

-- Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005


04 June 2008

The Google Shell - goosh.org

Check out goosh.org to see the Google Shell. Simply visit the website and it's interface is a command line shell that offers a set of commands and modes to expose Google services in the shell. I've posted some examples of simple searches I did for a band named Death Cab For Cutie and I like.

This is a cool concept, but I would much rather have shell access to Google services on my local command line. Don't get me wrong, this a useful idea but I'd rather pipe searches and stuff to the services from my iTerm than open a browser to get a command line. Seems a bit backwards to me. Anyway, it's a cool experiment, check it out!

Apache Camel at the Denver Open Source User's Group

Last night I spoke about Apache Camel at the Denver Open Source User's Group. Anytime I talk about Camel, there are people whose response is something like Matthew's: 'I can't believe I didn't know about this already! I already have places where I need Camel!' I love it when folks get the light bulb moment like that ;-).

Adam Sandler Buddy

Here's a goofy short by Adam Sandler from 1994 that I stumbled upon recently. Buddy, dude, homey - funny! :-)

via videosift.com

01 June 2008

Apache Camel and ServiceMix at the Colorado Software Summit 2008

I've been accepted to speak about Apache ServiceMix and Apache Camel at the Colorado Software Summit again this year. This will make the fourth year I've spoken at CSS and it's always a good conference full of many talented speakers and attendees. The conference organizers, Peggy and Wayne Kovsky, always host a great event at Keystone ski resort.

The Colorado Software Summit is a software conference that takes place every year at Keystone, Colorado in October. During this time of year at Keystone, winter is definitely on the way. Sometimes there's even enough snow to ski already and we typically see some Colorado wildlife around the area as well. Last year there was a pretty big blizzard on Sunday night when I drove up that almost prevented me from making it all the way to Keystone because there were no plows out yet. Raible and I always rent the same condo and have a fun week in the mountains. And this year Jason van Zyl will be joining us in the condo for his first year at CSS. I'm sure we'll have a good week.

30 May 2008

Seek: A Thunderbird Extension For Improved Searching

Some time ago, I discovered the Simile project at MIT that provides open source, free extensions for both Firefox and Thunderbird that improve working with various digital assets. The
Seek extension provides a vastly improved categorization of email messages using a concept known as faceted browsing that makes searching through messages much, much easier. If you use Thunderbird, you really need to check out Seek!

Seek and faceted browsing are described very well by David Huynh in a screencast. This screencast is a must watch to understand Seek better and get a demonstration of what it provides. After watching the screencast I was hooked and had to install it. Below is a screenshot of Seek:

This is the most useful Thunderbird extension I've found yet and I highly recommend it!

Also check out some additional screencasts by David Huynh about some additional technologies in the Simile project.

23 May 2008

ActiveMQ and ServiceMix at ApacheCon US 2008

I just got word that I will be headed to New Orleans, LA in November for ApacheCon US 2008. One of the talks I submitted for on the topic of Apache ServiceMix was accepted titled Service Oriented Integration With the Apache ServiceMix ESB. I also submitted a third talk titled Taking Apache Camel for a Ride and that was accepted as a fallback session (in case there are session cancellations). I delivered that talk at ApacheCon EU 2008 in The Netherlands and got some really great feedback for it.

Also, Aaron Mulder will be delivering a talk titled Real-World Messaging With ActiveMQ.

21 May 2008

My Favorite Cartoon of All Time - Billy Boy

I remember this cartoon from when I was kid and upon searching the web for it, I found it! Evidently this cartoon was made in 1954 if you can believe that. Watch it for yourself:

Billy Boy - Click here for another funny movie.

14 May 2008

More Cowbell with ActiveMQ - Squawk

I know that James already noted Squawk, but this is just too damn cool to pass up!

Squawk stands for simple queues using awk. It's all about consuming and producing messages via STOMP (Streaming Text Orientated Messaging Protocol), a text-based, wire-level messaging protocol. Writing STOMP clients is extremely easy and there are already many STOMP clients available in different languages.

There have been many times in the past where I could have used message oriented middleware at the operating system level with shell scripting. This really opens up some possibilities. Distributed communication at the shell level is unreliable. The ability to use ActiveMQ for reliable messaging from the shell level means that any system level applications can easily communicate in a distributed yet reliable manner. Maybe we should consider trying to get ActiveMQ into some Linux distributions!

Update: For folks who are not aware of the reference to More Cowbell, see the original SNL video. Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken are priceless in this skit! What's even funnier is that open source can be just like this skit sometimes :-).