Saturday, December 31, 2005

Christmas and the Wilds

Just back from Christmas at my parents place. Did all the regular stuff. You know, got stuffed with ham, chook, turkey and pudding on the day. Lots of hot weather too.

One of the storms knocked out the local TV re-transmitters on Yellowcap Ridge. Took ABC til the next day to get signal back (about 18 hours). The 2 commercial channels took at least two days. Must have been a bit of damage. For a normal power outage/spike, the re-transmitters take 2 to 4 minutes to reboot.

On the wild side of things, we have a pair of Brolgas (aka native companions/Grus rubicunda) nesting on the Home dams. They have two chicks. These guys are fast, you generally only see them if they not see you first.

Also on the wild front, did some washing! Anyway, while I’m was bring it back in, I nearly stepped in a snake. He was about 2 to 3 foot long, as think as the end of my little finger and light grey! Adolescent colouring, so its hard to tell what type he/she was. Think we both got a surprise. He got to the rockery first/fast.

Generally a restful break.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

China and the Shoe Event Horizon

China has passed Italy in economic size

That makes China the new sixth largest economy. Judging for the comment I’ve seen today, it should passes the UK and France in the next year or so, to become the forth largest economy, behind the US, Japan and Germany.

All this reminds me of something my dear old dad said 10 or 15 years ago.

That he hoped that the Chinese people start demanding their share of China’s action (in wages & a better quality of life), before all jobs and production got sucked into China.

This always reminded me of the Shoe Event Horizon from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

But I found some stuff that said this happened in 2001

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Compilable Specifications

Attended the Canberra Java Users Group (CJUG) monthly meeting last night.

The speaker was Stephen Mellor, Chief Scientist, Mentor Graphics and author.

Currently he is doing work in the area of Model-Driven Architecture (MDA). His latest title is ‘MDA Distilled: Principles of Model-Driven Architecture’ and was published in 2004. His recent titles generally relate to executable UML. I have two of his earlier titles, ‘Object-Oriented Systems Analysis: Modeling the World in Data’ (1988) & ‘Object Lifecycles: Modeling the World in State’ (1992). Both these titles are co-authored with Sally Shlaer. I got Stephen to sign them, a real blast from the past.

Whenever I talk to other professionals about where we as a profession want to end up, I always come back to two points. The first is the problems caused by the divergence, over time, between the code base and the stakeholders desired system (as embedded in the specification/documentation plus outstanding change backlog). The second is the dichotomy between the specification as view by the stakeholders and the code base as the thing that gets compiled and executed.

To happily resolve these issues you need two things, the first is compilable specifications, the second is domain-specific languages (that become part of a compilable specification).

For me, MDA represents the next best hope of getting to compilable specifications!

As outlined by Stephen, MDA has two school of approach.

These are ‘model as blueprint’ and ‘model as executable’.

Stephen went into detail (for a 2hr talk) about the components needed to build a generalized MDA system. He then talked about the differences between the processing and components needed to do ‘model as blueprint’ and ‘model as executable’.

Stephen’s company specializes in real-time embedded systems. Some of the systems they have built sound very interesting!

The presentation slides are on this page

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mainframes Old and Out of Style???

Over at slashdot there is a thread titled Java Is So 90s

In this thread there is a post titled "Mainframes Old and Out of Style???"

not by a long shot.
My clients are very large financial instituions and I don't know one of them who is reducing mainframe capacity. In fact, almost all of them are increasing capacity.
Most managers find it troubling that their mainframe-centric data centers continue to be well managed, predictable facilities while their Open Systems (UNIX, Wintel, Linux) data centers are a mess. Horribly erratic power and space consumption and many other woes that make management and planning a nightmare. Blade servers have not solved these problems - in fact, they have intensified them (powering and cooling 1000+ W/sq' is much more difficult than 50-100 W/sq').

While style is subjective, age is not. There's nothing old about the new systems IBM recently announced. Also, if being in style leads to huge cost overruns or getting fired, many of might choose to be a little less stylish.

Here is what I got to say about it...

I have worked on mainframe sites that were a mess.

Things like JCL weren’t under source control. Testing was usually ad-hoc to non-existent.

It’s a matter of care/professionalism on the part of both IT & System Owners.

Been places where some of the stakeholders can't event be bothered to turn up to Planning/Information meetings. I know, I fell asleep in one once! (It was in another city & I c’ld sleep the night before.)

I’ve seen 3rd Party vendors ripping off organizations blind (for customization)!

Is your Mainframe system organized because your site is well run & professional or because it’s ‘functionally stable’, i.e. dead!

My clients are very large financial institutions

How do their market shares compare to 20 years ago. What will their market shares be in 10 years time? Are they being pecked to death by new companies running blade farms?

I wont use the name ‘Open Systems’, in this case it’s a wrong term! (When did Wintel become an open system?)

It’s not the scale of the hardware that is the issue. It’s the utility of the software. Generally the newer the software, the better its utility! It’s a matter of trade offs. When does the cost of upgrading worth the benefits of the extra utility!

These small systems run the newest software.

All things considered, I’ld rather work with more recent software. Why, one word, UTILITY. Better software tools, if used in a professional & disciplined way, led to better systems that can evolved in a more timely manner.

In a COBOL environment you are fighting the language to be disciplined and structured. The grain of the COBOL language is too course! Which would you rather Unit Test, a 30K LOC of COBOL program or a 50 LOC java method?

A quiz for you!

Question: What are the four division of the COBOL program.


A good manager make sure their staff have good tools!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Blast, someone stole my RSS/text to voice idea!

One of these day I’m going to rig up a RSS to text to voice hack! One of these days…

Just found this RSS to voice post over at Doc Searls' IT Garage.

the link to


are bloggers a sub-set of journo

Over the last week or so, I’ve been pondering, just what is the difference between a blogger and a journo?

I had concluded that there was no real difference between a good blogger and a good amateur journo.

This post was just posted over at Slashdot.

Now I might just have to conclude that a really good “A-list” blogger is up there with the professional journos.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

A podcast niche for someone

While I was vegging out (reading a novel) on the couch yesterday (Sunday) morning, with a idiot box on in the corner. This segment appeared on the ABC’s, Inside Business. It was an interview with the retiring journo, Trevor Sykes.

Trevor has been a finance journo for more booms than he cares to remember. He has written under his own name and that of his alter ego, the arch-capitalist, Pierpont. You got to love someone who’s got a stock broker name Leo Liability!

The following quote from the interview took my attention

Every morning when I open the Pierpont website I get all these emails from people, and usually there is one or two ideas for a story every day. I'm going to be leaving the office with a stack of paper approximately one foot high, and every bit of paper is an investigation I never got around to. So there is plenty of material for someone who wants to come along as a copycat!

This strikes me as an opportunity, where someone with writing skill could carve an internet niche for themselves!

Someone might even be able to construct a two person interview team, like John Clarke and Bryan Dawe stage on The 7:30 Report. A good place to host this would be a some place like Cameron Reilly’s The Podcast Network