Tag Archives: forbidden city

Beijing in pictures


Originally uploaded by andyp uk

I’m spending a couple of weeks on business in China. It’s an exciting trip as it is my first time in mainland China, I’m getting to do a lot of travelling around, and I’m building some connections with my colleagues in IBM’s China Development Labs (and I was able to spend time with Chinese colleagues in the UK in preparation, learning about the business culture and language here).

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind already. Shortly after landing on Friday I gave a relatively impromptu 2 hour presentation to the WebSphere developers in CDL, which covered everything from life in Hursley, through my career, our product strategies, and the latest news on technologies like WebSphere MQ, MQTT, Message Broker and WebSphere Registry and Repository.

My first “free” day in Beijing, Saturday, was very wet… and I underestimated the distances on the map in an attempt to walk to an attraction which I deemed “fairly close” to my hotel. Word of advice: the guidebooks describe Beijing as “not very walkable”, and my impression is that it really isn’t; I should have taken a cab! Today though, the weather changed and I was able to get out to see a couple of the sights including the Forbidden City (which I’ve previously mentioned here on my blog, in the context of the Beyond Space and Time project which utilises IBM technology and our experience in virtual worlds), and part of the Great Wall. Really spectacular stuff. Colleagues helped me to arrange a tour with Grayline and I have to say that they were excellent. The one obvious issue here is traffic, which is really choking movement – other than that it’s a very pleasant, modern (but utterly vast!) city with some wonderful people.

I didn’t bring an SLR with me but I captured a few shots with the iXUS and iPhone 4. Keep an eye on Flickr.

Tomorrow it’s straight into workshops, roundtables and presentations, and I’ll be travelling around for much of the next couple of weeks, so online interactions may be limited.

Message Brokers and Forbidden Cities

I’ve been reading a lot about the Beyond Space and Time project, which is bringing Beijing’s famous Forbidden City to life. As an eightbar person I’ve been aware of the project for quite some time, but I have to admit that I’ve not really done too much digging into the underlying technology.

According to the reports, the project has been built using the Torque engine, with WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Message Broker on the backend, with dynamic provisioning of servers. This is awesome stuff. I frequently refer to Message Broker as “my pet product”, since it’s the product I’ve specialised in for the past 8 years of my professional life. I’m going to probe further into exactly how the middleware stack is being utilised.

As we’ve been evangelising virtual worlds within IBM (I’m not a full-time Metaverse Evangelist, but Ian and, in the past, Roo have frequently been kind enough to put me forward as a speaker on the topic when they’ve been unavailable), the question has arisen as to “why we’re even bothering with all this game stuff”. Well, as someone whose day job has been in enterprise middleware and transactional systems for the past several years, I’ve always seen some of the key connections here. The 3D Internet environment needs to be supported by a multitude of technologies, and enterprises with well-defined Service Oriented Architectures are well placed to have their systems connected to the next-generation environments. If they are going to be successful, Virtual Worlds need hardware to run on, they need some of the enterprise-quality levels of availability, security and service that we’ve become accustomed to in business, and they need to be able to connect up to existing systems. A product like WebSphere Message Broker is ideal for helping to enable this, as it essentially provides the ability to connect to any “legacy” backend and mediate requests on behalf of the avatar needing the data.

So, check out Beyond Space and Time, enjoy it, and you’ll probably forget all about the middleware that enables it to run – which is exactly how it should be. The whole project really does bear out some of the stuff that we’ve been discussing over on eightbar for the past couple of years, and I’m completely thrilled to see it launch.