my recent reads..

What You Do Prata - Food Republic Suntec

Mmm .. getting back to the original theme of this blog: prata reports!

On Saturday I stopped off at Suntec Convention Centre. It's had a famous prata stall for years, and it seems to have survived last year's renovation under the "Food Republic" brand (look for the What You Do Prata stall). Pleased to report the plain prata is as light and fluffy as ever with just enough crispyness. Curry is not bad, but more like a thicker masala style. For fun (and your sweet-tooth), try the prata tissue!

NB: many places you'll find the Teh Tarik is bitter and stewed. Not here .. its great!
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Oracle OpenWorld from Afar

The Bloggers at Openworld announcement promised to make this years conference a very different experience than ever before. Especially for people like myself who weren't able to attend. I'd like to add my big vote of thanks to the OTN, AppsLab and Oracle bloggers, whose combined efforts really did make this a great (first?) "virtual" OpenWorld.

Blogging In Action
By my last count we had 59 "openworld07" articles tagged at (37 in the official OTN tag cloud, 43 in Eddie Awad's Oracle OpenWorld News Aggregator and 26 tagged via Technorati). And so far 452 photos at Flickr.

I especially enjoyed the detailed conference diaries by Dimitri Gielis, Nathalie Roman and Doug Burns. Eddie Awad did a great job of community reporting outside the conference halls. They are just a few I enjoyed - too many other bloggers to mention, but on behalf of all the "virtual attendees" I thank you all!

Best Post has however got to be Oracle World and the invasion of the sports jacket on what is now one of my favourite blogs by the Sartorially Orientated Architects!

Suggestion #1 for the Community - Get our Common Tagging act together Eddie Awad posted some great tips for publishing and following OpenWorld. To be honest though, the adoption has been mixed. I suspect partially because there wasn't enough publicity or official sanction given to the ideas. I only noticed Eddie's post today - after the conference is over!

The most "wired" conference I've attended was ix2007 in Singapore, where instructions for twitter and tagging posts via Technorati were prominently included in the registration materials. It would be great to see this getting more official attention at OOW08.

If you blogged about OpenWorld, it's not too late to tag your posts "openworld07" and register with Technorati. And if you are reading Openworld articles, keep tagging them on!

Podcasts and Streaming
Justin did a bang-up job with the OTN TechCasts from OpenWorld (can't pick a highlight since they all had great people with really relevant stuff to say). And it truely is OpenWorld when you can catch the keynotes without even attending the conference.

Suggestion #2 - Publish a Podcast Feed for the Keynotes and it's not too late for Oracle to post some feeds for the video, highlights and full audio feeds - with properly tagged audo files! I'm happy to download them all individually, but it would have been even more convenient to be able to subscribe to the keynotes feed and have them pop up in my iPod as they are published.

And now .. the analysis
I guess the one thing we haven't seen a great deal of so far is analysis of what went down at OpenWorld. I'm sure that will surface over the next weeks and months. My attention was drawn to two key themes..
  • Virtualization The announcement of Oracle VM may prove to be a blockbuster if it is widely adopted in practice, I think once it is fully integrated with Enterprise Manager. It promises to completely change the game for how we build and maintain applications and technology infrastructure - from the bare-metal up, from one vendor.

  • Fusion Scorecard the years are ticking by since Oracle played the Fusion card. Vinnie Mirchandani is just one who is asking "Where are the Fusion Applications?" For the cynics, the organisational changes in development are just another indicator that Fusion is devolving into a Technology/BI story i.e. just futzing around the edges. The optimists however will point out that getting the technology platform right is essential, and is not even news (see for example Cliff Godwin's Fusion AppCast on the Fusion Strategy Office from Jul-07).
    The true test for Oracle will not only be the delivery of appropriately componentized Applications, but the business insight it can encapsulate in the platform (hence why it is more important than ever that Oracle Development usefully engage the community through events like OpenWorld and the customer advisory boards).
    It is one thing to enthuse about how bringing Web2.0 and social networking features to CRM will have sales people the world over swooning, and quite another to have a head-on collision with the "Real World"!

That's all for now. Again, thanks especially to Justin (OTN), Jake and Paul (AppsLab) and the many Oracle bloggers who turned Oracle OpenWorld 2007 into a global, networked event. Kudos!
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SOA and WS-BPEL - here for review

I was kindly invited by Packt Publishing to review Yuli Vasiliev's new book SOA and WS-BPEL. The review copy just arrived today in time for a quick scan.

I'm immediately drawn by the fact that this is one book that clearly goes beyond smarchitectural blurgh and gets down to concrete details. The focus is on showing how you can create solutions with an open source or freely available toolset - specifically PHP and ActiveBPEL. And when it comes the database of course you expect MySQL, but I am very pleased to see that Yuli also gives full coverage of using (freely available) Oracle Database XE.

Looks like a few days of fun ahead as I work through the book in more detail. I'll be sure to post my review when I'm done.

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Rejoining the Oracle Social Mix

To the AppsLab team - a big thank you! As I mentioned in my last post, I'm now ex-Oracle, and one of the transition pains was cutting myself off from the internal Oracle Connect social networking site. But no sooner do I leave, and they graciously launch Oracle Mix - which is basically the combination of the IdeasFactory and Connect, but now open to the world. Yes!

I hope this is only the beginning, and we see some rapid development of the site into a premier channel for the Oracle community. I imagine a great deal of the effort in the 5-6 week development period went into integrating and refactoring the AppsLab code, and porting to the Oracle AS + jruby environment, so I'll be gentle with my comments for now;-)

I guess the main nudge I'd like to give the team would be to think a bit more about the idea generation/innovation process and adapt the site to suit. To be frank, I was getting a little disillusioned by the IdeaFactory because it was turning into a dumping ground - literally thousands of ideas going in, but little sight of what benefit was coming out.

Good ideas are hard to find - Scott Berkun does a grand job of demolishing this falsehood in The Myths of Innovation (required reading I would recommend for anyone working on "innovation tools"). The implication being that there should be no surprise in Oracle Mix attracting many great ideas, but more important is what happens next..

Do they get adopted by an Idea Angel to champion the cause? Do they get the protection and attention to make the transition from Idea to Innovation?

And perhaps even more significantly, how will the community learn about "Ideas that make it"? This will be critical to stimulate a virtuous feedback cycle that encourages people to submit more ideas because they can see it is worthwhile.

Dell included this critical ingredient for their IdeaStorm site in the simplest of ways .. Ideas in Action is just a blog of stories about how they have adopted and implemented ideas submitted and voted by their users:

I guess there are a few other points I could get cranky about, like some minor usability issues, and the bad policy of only allowing full features to users with "verified customer emails" (Dell's IdeaStorm doesn't). But I'll lay off for now, because overall I think the AppsLab team have made a fantastic start and I want to give them every encouragement to keep hammering away at this stuff!

Oracle Mix is truely a breath of fresh air!

NB: See Paul and Rich's launch announcements.
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