Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The IT crowd

This show is really funny to me. I could watch the opening scene of the 6th episode every day for the next month and still find it amusing. I loved Father Ted, and this is basically Father Ted does Office Space instead of Craggy Island. It captures on the odd dichotomy off the IT group being the lowest on the social scale in many regards, but having total control over a few minor things.

Roy answers the phone with: "Hello, IT department. Have you tried turning it off and on?"

You can watch some here, at least you could last night (although you can find better quality wma files as torrents).

Service Oriented

How much of a key to Service Oriented Architecture's success as an enterprise buzzword is due to that first part- "service oriented"? I think for non-IT types that are tired of getting told what they can and can't do by the IT crowd. Having something focused on service seems to put the IT guys back in their place.

You then add into the mix Fowler's absolutely correct assertion that "SOA has turned into a semantics-free concept", and you have a recipe for entertainment in the enterprise. It's a great label to stick on whatever pet project you've been pushing for months, years, except now it comes with an extra helping of buzzword compliance which is sure to get it funded.

Sadly, it also applies to my pet project which is making applications respond to applications in addition to responding to humans. Unfortunately, it's a little difficult to get that one funded, it's more something that I want to fund across hundreds of projects.

From Fowler's site, here is the definition I am most strongly opposed to:
"For some SOA implies an architecture where applications disappear. Instead you have core services that supply business functionality and data separated by UI aggregators that apply presentations that aggregate together the stuff that core services provide."

That sounds like it's going to be hell for users. Sorry, you don't get an application, you get an aggregated UI. The thing that really makes that version of SOA completely evil, is that in order to produce an aggregated UI, your "service" has to present a portlet (or equivalent) version of itself.

On the other hand, the concept that you should achieve code reuse by introducing dependencies on other occaisonally running, provisionally funded systems might even be worse than what the above would do to users. Maybe we should just rename it dependency oriented architecture- the acronym seems much more appropriate.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


I really like PropSmart. It is a Google Maps (should we call them Google Local?) API application for real estate. They use all of the basic features that one would associate with that kind of application, with nice tabbed pop-ups on the pins that have pictures of the properties and basic info.

The truly impressive thing, to me, though is there ability to scrape so much housing data. In the US, that data is pretty tightly controlled via the Multiple Listings Service (MLS). The MLS has tiered access, where registered Realtors get to see the most up to date information. PropSmart hasn't cracked that yet, but has taken advantage of the fact that most offices post stuff on their own sites in addition to making MLS submissions. So, you'll still be cursed by old data, but the mere concept of putting all of that data on the map makes it so much easier to see what's where.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Pragmatic Ajax

I'm in day two of the Pragmatic Ajax Studio. It's been entertaining, particularly with my cousin in his usual enthusiastic form...

Of course, I have been falling behind in the exercises because I am not a natural when it comes to JavaScript. The first day of the course is a real eye opener on the power of that language. I don't know that I'll ever need/want to get that deeply into it, but JavaScript in some ways more powerful than a lot of other languages that I am used to using, particularly in the variety of things you can do with functions. Of course, with that power comes great responsibility.

Corporate GMail

Google to offer GMail with your domain name. Still beta? Sign up here.
With rumours of a calendar and web page editor, plus the recent GTalk integration on the horizon, they are coming closer to being a viable corporate platform. We are using Yahoo! Small Business now, simply because they offered hosting and email for a cheap price. Unfortunately, it's not exactly GMail. Optimally, GMail would be a product we could host ourselves (on an appliance?), but that's probably just me dreaming again.