Monthly Archives: October 2009

Barcamp. London. Seven.

This past weekend saw a first for IBM South Bank as it played host to Barcamp London 7, the seventh time a the Barcamp unconference had been held in London (I know this, because I asked @thehodge why it was called Barcamp London 7, and he said it was because it was the seventh one… cunning!). South Bank is not often used for events at the weekend, and certainly not for events of 200 excited techies, creative types and those wanting to run their own talks on subjects as diverse as Failure, the TV series Lost, CSS design, niche bands you should be listening to, a photography project involving a rubber duck, life drawing, and Enterprise Software Patterns.

The IBM side of the event organisation was largely the effort of Zoe Slattery, although a host of us volunteered to help support the external organisers, and several IBM folks attended. Attendance at a Barcamp is free and the event is supported and funded by sponsors. It was great to mingle and chat with people I’d met at similar events, friends, and others I was connecting with for the first time.

Don't break my stuffThe scheduleIs THIS Mr Duck?Coffee loungeYepDuckpond

The way that a Barcamp is organised is that there is no set agenda – attendees turn up and volunteer to speak for 20 minutes on a topic of their choice (and these topics can be very diverse). We used something like 12 or 13 rooms and I believe we had nearly 200 available session slots spanning the 2 day period from 10am on Saturday through until 5pm on the Sunday. By the end of Saturday almost the entire session “grid” was filled. It is a Barcamp tradition that first timers are expected to give at least one session… in the end, I gave two.

There’s an event on Slideshare where the decks for those that used slides are being collected, but there was a huge range of different topics and styles (including my own favourite, Ben Fletcher’s Fingerspelling lesson, which had us learning the alphabet in British Sign Language at increasingly higher speeds!)

The overnight stay went well – there were a few party games and many, many discussions on Saturday evening. A good time had by all, judging from the tweets and photos.

The staff at South Bank were exceptional, working the weekend and remaining in great spirits, helped by the sunny dispositions of the Barcamp attendees. All in all it was a great success, and I hope that we’ll be able to get involved in more of these kinds of events!

Zoe and Ben also have some nice write-ups, and the Flickr group of photos is filling out nicely. Thanks to Adewale Oshineye for this cool photo of me!

WebSphere Connectivity products v7 announcements

I briefly tweeted a few Fridays ago about one of the new products IBM announced at the start of this month.

wmb7tweetRegular / long-term readers will know that WebSphere Message Broker is one of my technology specialisms – it’s a product that I’ve been working with for 8 or so years now, through various versions. A few days ago I also mentioned in passing about the new version of WebSphere Service Registry and Repository. Both of these products are part of my day job, working in product strategy and development in IBM Hursley.

So let’s just review the announcements in the WebSphere Connectivity portfolio, and pick out some my favourite new features and enhancements.

Take a look at the announcement letters for individual products for full details of what to expect.

Another content sink

I’ve recently found that some of my social net connections are actively using Posterous and it brings me back to wondering why I’ve not yet got into it.

On the one hand, it’s just another “sink” – after my blog, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and anywhere else I might spread my content. On the other, folks like Leo Laporte sing its praises… and when I look at my Tumblr that has become not a lot more than a continuous feed of my delicious tags, with the occasional “quotation” post.

So, what should I use this for? Whilst I can see the convenience of emailing updates, I’m used to my offline blogging clients, where I have a lot more control of the layout and content. I’m already seeing a major shift in my online behaviour towards more “streaming” sites like Twitter for link sharing rather than forming whole posts around things.

On balance, though, it’s good to be here, especially now that I find more of a network with some great material to explore. Let’s see how it unfolds.

WebSphere Service Registry and Repository Redbooks

One of the products I’ve been becoming increasingly involved with as part of my work at Hursley has been WebSphere Service Registry and Repository. Rather than redefine what the product is here, I’ll take a snippet from the WSRR FAQ:

WebSphere Service Registry and Repository is a system for storing, accessing and managing information, commonly referred as service metadata, used in the selection, invocation, management, governance and reuse of services in a successful SOA. In other words, it is where you store information about services in your systems, or in other organizations’ systems, that you already use, plan to use, or want to be aware of.

The Registry and Repository is becoming increasingly central to many SOA deployments and is strongly integrated with several of IBM’s runtimes (including hooks with my long-term product specialisms, WebSphere MQ and Message Broker).

Version 7 of WSRR was announced at the start of October (more on this later in the week), but in the meantime it’s worth noting that a great set of Redbooks and Redpapers for the current 6.3 release have recently hit the publications website:

Over the past few months I’ve gotten to know many of the IBMers who worked on these books and papers personally, and I have to say that they are the absolute experts on the topics. I know I’ll be reaching for these publications when I need to know my way around specific topic areas.

My review policy

Earlier this week I heard that the Federal Trade Commission has introduced new advertising guidelines, which amount to rules for bloggers who review products. A contact of mine also sent me a link to this information directly… I think the unspoken implication there was that they were aware I’m sometimes sent free things to review and that maybe I wasn’t being open about that.

Both of these events acted as triggers to make me finish this post, which has actually been sitting in draft state in my blogging client since… well… March this year. I can’t see that the FTC has any jurisdiction over my blog, but I’ve been thinking about this for a while, as a way of telling both readers and companies what they can expect from me.

It’s true that I’ve been given access to products for review purposes on occasion, and sometimes I’ve been able to keep hold of the products (or been given a full software license after the review period has ended). I’ve always been careful to point out where I’ve been offered a product for review, most recently for example, with the LG Arena mobile phone.

So here’s my standpoint.

  • Firstly, and very importantly – I write here as an individual. I do not make a secret of who my employer is, and you are welcome to read all about me on the About page. However, my opinions and are my own and may or may not represent my employer’s views. I will not review anything here on behalf of my employer, I do so as an individual.
  • If a company wants to invite me to review their product or service then I’m often interested in taking a look.
  • I appreciate it when the company or PR firm actually takes the time to find out what I’m interested in and what I write about, rather than sending me a silly email. Do your research.
  • If you send me something to review, you should expect an honest set of opinions. I will not sugar-coat what I think of it.
  • If you send me something to review then it will be on my timescales. I have a life and a day job and both of those come before writing about your product, site of service.
  • I will always disclose whether I was given / given access to a product in my review. If I do not call that out, then readers should assume that I own the product or am otherwise a personal user of that site or service.

That’s it. Pretty straightforward, really.