Monday, December 7, 2009

On Leadership...

Among other things, last week's exchange on The Planet ought to be a reminder to all of us of how hard good leadership is to come by. I'm sure you've heard the term "thought leader", but it's always been a bit of an oxymoron to me. Ideas are cheap, and thinking can often get you into trouble (I should know, I've been there). Yes, actions do speak louder than words, so a more appropriate term for someone who displays true leadership, in my mind, would be "action leader" or, even better, "action hero". It's ironic that use of the latter isn't more prevalent in our industry. Forget being a rock star, I want to be an action hero.

When I think (danger, Will Robinson!) about it, it's the posts from people doing amazing things at Eclipse that tend to earn more of my respect. So, rather than accusing anyone of biting the hand that feeds or questioning whether others have poisoned the well, I'm looking to the action heros at Eclipse to continue doing such a stellar job of leading by example. Indeed, it is they, and others like them, who, if anyone, will keep our ecosystem from collapsing under the weight of our collective self-importance. In truth AND in deed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

On Momentum...

Despite rumors of a resistance movement (ha!), the momentum of modeling at Eclipse continues to build, as attested by last week's summit. By all accounts the various tutorials, presentations, and discussions about modeling were quite productive. I'll be blogging in more detail about the BoF and long talk that I helped deliver at ESE in the coming days, but before I do I wanted to bring your attention to two other upcoming events that may be of interest to modelers.

In just under two weeks, Eclipse will be hosting "Modeling Days" in New York and Toronto. The line-up of presenters is terrific, and in case you missed my presentation on Papyrus in Ludwigsburg, I'll be delivering (an updated version of) it at the Toronto Modeling Day on Wednesday, November 18. Registration is free, so there's no excuse for missing this opportunity to interact with thought leaders in the Eclipse Modeling community.

I alluded to the second event some time ago, but now it's official - another Eclipse/OMG Symposium is being held, this time at the OMG Technical Meeting in Minnesota, Minneapolis on June 23, 2010. The call for participation is already open, so it's not too early to consider submitting a proposal and making your contribution to the joint future of open source and open specifications.

Monday, November 2, 2009

On the Mo...

Having witnessed, first-hand, the transformative effect that hair (or absence thereof) can have on our personal lives, I've decided to grow some hair, this time for a cause. That's right, it's Movember and I've joined the Eclipse Mommitters in their effort to raise money to "help change the face of men's health". I'll be posting pictures of my progress over the next few weeks on my "Mo Space" (personal page). Check it out, consider making a donation to our team, and think about how you could do your part to help fight prostate cancer.

Monday, October 5, 2009

On Big "M" Modeling...

Speaking of Wayne, I, too, was recently interviewed by a German magazine, JAXenter. Following his example, I thought I'd post the English translation of the interview for the benefit of those (like me) that can't read German. It's a little dated (especially since our Helios plan is now in place and we've already started development), but hey, better late than never, right? ;)

Can you describe the Eclipse MDT Project in a few words?

The Model Development Tools (MDT) project focuses on big "M" modeling within the Eclipse Modeling project. Its purpose is to provide implementations of industry standard metamodels and exemplary tools for developing models based on those metamodels.

Can you give a typical use case for the project?

Developers use MDT as a framework for building professional-grade modeling tools based on industry standard languages such as Unified Modeling Language (UML), Object Constraint Language (OCL), and XML Schema Definition (XSD), among others. End users use MDT's exemplary tooling (currently provided by the UML2 Tools and Papyrus components) to develop models based on those languages.

What's new in the Galileo Version of MDT?

Four of the nine components in MDT released as part of Galileo. OCL 1.3 saw the addition of finer-grained control over debug tracing, support for big numbers, and an extensible type checking mechanism. UML2 3.0 subscribed to the EMF "ultra-slim diet", migrated to the latest released version of the UML specification (2.2), and made some extensibility enhancements in the area of profiles. UML2 Tools 0.9 includes enhanced support for working with profiles and stereotypes, vastly improved look and feel, provisional support for sequence and timing diagrams, and the ability to specify which elements are included (synchronized) when creating a class diagram. Finally, XSD 2.5 added support for using an ecore:nsURI attribute on a schema element to specify the namespace URI for a schema without a target namespace.

Where do you see the MDT Project in one year? How will the project evolve after Galileo?

We have yet to prepare our plans for the next major release of MDT (dubbed "Helios"), but I can give you an idea of what I'd like to see happen. First, I'd like to see revival of ODM (Ontology Definition Metamodel) support in MDT (in fact, we already have a proposal), especially given the resurgence of interest in RDF (Resource Definition Framework) in the industry of late (e.g. Linked Data). I also anticipate compliance with the latest releases of industry specifications, particularly BPMN, OCL, and XSD. Integration of EMF-based support for things like searching, comparing, and indexing of models in our end-user tooling should also be a priority. Finally, I hope to see some innovation in modeling tooling and techniques, including support for such things as facet-based metamodels, task-focused tools, and collaborative design.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

On Auspicious Dates...

I was reminded recently, while volunteering as part of my son's Beaver colony, of the Scout Motto: "Be prepared". Of course, a good way to be prepared is to have a plan. Wayne has done a great job this year of reminding project leads, both on the mailing lists and on his blog, of their responsibility to get their project plans in place in time for yesterday's deadline. My only question is, if you plan to fail and you fail, have you failed or succeeded?

In any case, the MDT plan for the Helios coordinated release is now finally in place... more or less. Looking at the release schedule, I was amused by the significance of some of the milestone dates for "+3" projects (of which MDT is one). M3 is on Remembrance Day, M6 is on St. Patrick's Day, and M7 is on Cinco de Mayo. I'm not sure whether that's a good sign or a bad one, but either way, I'm looking forward to an exciting cycle of development at Eclipse!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On Going Forth to the Past...

And so it would seem that, while there are things, both personal and professional, that we must let go of in life, there are some we may choose not to. Open source is one such thing for me, and open specifications are another. To that end, I'm happy to say that I was recently appointed representative of the Eclipse Foundation at the Object Management Group. This means that, while I won't be resuming all of my former responsibilities at the OMG, I am once again able to actively participate in shaping the joint future of these two organizations.

I'm currently working on organizing a follow-up to the symposia that were held back in 2008 (I'll post more information on that as it becomes available). Of course, before hosting such an event, I want to ensure that steps have been taken to address at least some of the important issues that were identified at the first symposia. At this point, I think the intellectual property relationship between Eclipse projects and OMG specifications is more clear than it was before. To further preserve this lineage, Eclipse is participating in the OMG's IPR policy review process on an ongoing basis.

As for a better means of tracking issues at the OMG, work has begun to migrate the large database of OMG issues, along with their associated triage processes, to Bugzilla. With any luck, it should soon be possible to submit and track an issue against an OMG specification as a Bugzilla record and, ideally (longer term), be able to do so from within a tool that is based on that specification (e.g., by using Mylyn tasks with contexts based on models). If you're interested in seeing this happen, or perhaps even in helping bring it to fruition, I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, September 14, 2009

On Letting Go...

Woah, it's been quite a while since my last entry. While my new life as jetsam has taught me a whole new meaning to the expression "the truth will set you free", I've been focusing more on figuring out what to do with my freedom rather than dwelling on how I earned it. I've been exploring a number of alternatives over the past couple of months, some of which I'll be blogging about in the near future.

One thing I know I'll be doing for sure is continuing my commitment to open (but not free!) source and, of course, Eclipse. In that vein, I'm thrilled that my long talk proposal for Eclipse Summit Europe, entitled "Papyrus: Advent of an Open Source IME at Eclipse", which I co-submitted with Raphael Faudou, Patrick Tessier, and Cedric Dumoulin, has been accepted. I finally completed my registration this morning (after overcoming some browser obstacles) and am looking forward to being in Ludwigsburg again this October. I'm particularly stoked about who one of the keynote speakers is this year. I had the distinct privilege of spending time with Tony Bailetti this summer as part of the Lead to Win program (more on that later), so I know first-hand that we're in for a treat. This year's summit is shaping up to be a dandy; I hope to see you there!

Monday, July 6, 2009

On Lighter Loads...

What are the odds that my closest friend and I, he in the hardware industry and I, in software, would both lose our jobs during the very same week? Talk about synchronicity! As it happens, full-time employment wasn't the only thing that we shed this past week. My mother recently lost all of her hair as a result of the chemotherapy treatment she is undergoing for breast cancer, so the two of us decided to shave our heads as a gesture of solidarity.

I wasn't kidding when I said that I was facing this transition with an open mind! Thanks to all of you that have shared your best wishes for my future endeavors. Having offloaded the weight of the corporate world... and now my hair, I feel more invigorated than ever to take on my next challenge. Stay tuned for details.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

On Falling...

It's been just under two years now since I left the mother ship for an opportunity with Embarcadero, and I've seldom looked back... until today. On this day, when most other Canadians are celebrating the birth of our great nation and the freedom it affords its citizens, I'm faced with commemorating a new found freedom of my own. I've been exiled from Cubicle Nation.

This isn't exactly the kind of change I had in mind when I wrote my last blog entry, but I'm committed to facing it with an open mind (seeing as I have no choice). I don't know what I'll be doing for income yet (if you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them), but in the meantime I thought it would be an apt occasion to take another wordle snapshot of my blog (exactly six months after the last one).

So far, 2009 has been a challenging year. But, a friend of mine told me recently that a kick in the pants is still a step forward, and I'm inclined to agree. I really should be seeing this as more of a beginning than an end, and I'm sure that once I've landed with two feet firmly planted on my next venture, this will be obvious in hindsight. One thing is for certain, though. I'll not be looking back again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On Galileo...

And so, the big day is here. I'd like to say a big "thank you" to the members of the Model Development Tools (MDT) development team that made this release possible. This past release cycle has been an eventful one, with committers and components both coming and going. I'm proud of what we accomplished as a team (given the challenges we faced) and especially of the fact that MDT is listed as the third most popular project on the Eclipse Downloads page, behind PDT and Web Tools. A true testament to the value that modeling tools bring to the Eclipse ecosystem!

So, what's new in this release of MDT? Four of the now nine components in MDT released today as part of Galileo. OCL 1.3 saw the addition of finer-grained control over debug tracing, support for big numbers, and an extensible type checking mechanism. UML2 3.0 subscribed to the EMF ultra-slim diet, migrated to the latest released version of the UML specification (2.2), and made some extensibility enhancements in the area of profiles. UML2 Tools 0.9 includes enhanced support for working with profiles and stereotypes, vastly improved look and feel, provisional support for sequence and timing diagrams, and (at long last!) the ability to specify which elements are included (synchronized) when creating a class diagram. Finally, XSD 2.5 added support for using an ecore:nsURI attribute on a schema element to specify the namespace URI for a schema without a target namespace.

But of course, that's not the whole story behind what took place this past year. Two components (EODM and OCL Tools) were terminated and two new ones were created (Papyrus and MST). We also received a number of project proposals, some of which may yet see the light of day. We were sad to see the departure of some of our past contributors (most notably, committer emeritus Christian Damus, former lead of the OCL component) but heartily welcomed the many new ones that arrived! If change is an indication of healthy progress (and I believe it is) I'm happy to say that the MDT mini-ecosystem is alive and well. Here's to a another successful release and the changes that the future is sure to bring!

Friday, June 19, 2009

On Renaming Eclipse...

I was reminded yet again this week, by a self-proclaimed analyst, that Eclipse is dead. I sure hope that's true. I mean, I'd like to think that what we have come to know Eclipse to be dies every day and becomes something different (and better!) the next day. That's the nature of continuous innovation. Otherwise, what we're stuck with is the status quo, and that's not going to get anyone much of anywhere.

I was reading an entry in Chris Guillebeau's blog the other day, and it dawned on me why Eclipse is at risk of missing the next wave of innovation - it no longer has a well-defined enemy. Remember that classic Weird Al song? "I know Darth Vader's really got you annoyed, but remember if you kill him then you'll be unemployed". The battle with that eternal yellow sphere was won some time ago, and it seems unlikely that the other "evil empire" will ever amass an open source ecosystem quite as impressive as the one Eclipse has. So what's left that's worth fighting for? United we stand, divided we focus on squeezing every last possible incremental improvement out of our existing "value added" products.

But fear not, all is not lost! The Empire is striking back, albeit under a different guise. Perhaps Eclipse should be renamed to properly reflect what our new war cry ought to be. How about "Dissonance"? Then again, they say that if you can't beat 'em, you might as well join 'em. This time 'round I'm thinking that's not such a bad idea... and I'm happy to see that efforts have already begun in that direction. Yeah, come to think of it, maybe "Resonance" is a better name, especially given who discovered the phenomenon and the milestone that Eclipse is about to to achieve next week. ;)

Monday, June 8, 2009

On Cadences...

The Weekend to End Breast Cancer. It ain't just for ladies anymore (or at least is shouldn't be). I was one of a handful of men among over a thousand women that walked 60 kilometers this past weekend and raised over two million dollars for cancer research in the process. I was humbled by the many examples of courage and hope that I witnessed. There was a man who has done the walk 30 times and who, last year (or so I am told), wheeled his deceased wife's empty wheelchair for two days. There was a cancer survivor who pushed her walker faster than many of us could walk unaided. There were women in very late stages of pregnancy, one of whom was having contractions but refused to see her midwife to deliver her baby until she had finished walking for the day. There were several who carried empty walking shoes once worn by women whose journey has come prematurely to an end.

I want to thank the four women, one of them a cancer survivor, who were gracious enough to allow me to walk with them on the second day. One of the most powerful moments, for me, occurred less than five kilometers from the finish line when the route diverged from the sidewalk onto a path of crushed gravel. We had been walking nearly the whole day together, but only just then noticed that our cadences were perfectly in sync. It was a true testament to what shared vision is all about. Like all of the other participants, we were there for similar goals, but there's no doubt in my mind that what we were able to accomplish together was more than any of us could have done on our own. We were among the first forty or so to finish, and I'll not forget the feeling any time soon.

Friday, June 5, 2009

On the Verge...

Speaking of action (and the need for doing more walking and less talking), I now stand at the precipice before the Big Weekend. Thanks to all of the family, friends, and colleagues that have generously donated, I have qualified to participate in The Weekend to End Breast Cancer, which starts tomorrow. I've walked nearly 300 kilometers over the past ten weeks in preparation for this journey, and the weather forecast looks promising, so I'm looking forward to a great weekend. Of course, it's not too late to show your support, so if you want to make a last-minute donation, please see my personal page. For those that are interested, you can follow my updates over the next two days on Twitter. See you on the other side!

Monday, June 1, 2009

On the Letter W...

Today's entry is brought to you by the letter W. What is it with the letter W, anyway? Many of the major innovations in this information age of ours seem to begin with that letter. Windows, World Wide Web, Wiki, Wii, and now Wave. All I can say is wow.

I've been thinking a lot about innovation lately (on my walks), and after reading Doug's and Dave's blog entries I feel compelled to comment. I don't think the distinction between successful and unsuccessful innovations comes down to a question of propriety; indeed it seems inevitable that all software will be open source before too long. Instead, I think it's a matter of shared vision. There's a big difference between a diverse collection of participants with similar goals and a team of collaborators (whom need not work for the same employer) with a shared vision, especially if/when that vision is compelling enough to be contagious.

The team that originally brought us Eclipse had such a shared vision, and it seems that the team developing Wave does, too. Of course, it's harder to achieve mindshare across geographical, cultural, and organizational boundaries; interestingly, these are the very challenges that Wave appears to be taking a huge step toward helping us overcome. Yes, Ed, the time is nigh for taking action. Hang on, because it's going to be a heck of a ride!

Friday, May 8, 2009

On Bodies at REST...

Newton got beaned by the apple good. So goes the lyric from another song by the band that inspired the name of this blog. Of course, Newton was probably most famous for his laws of motion, including the principle that a body at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon an external force. This rang especially true for me when my mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. For some time I had been looking for the motivation to become more active (yoga once a week just wasn't cutting it). Rather than "resting on my laurels", I decided to do something positive about my mother's prognosis (and my sedentary lifestyle) and signed up to participate in the upcoming Weekend to End Breast Cancer in Ottawa. As a participant, I have to raise a minimum of $2000 and walk 60 km over the course of two days in June. I've been training for about seven weeks now, but could really use your help raising the funds (I'm just about half way there). For details, please see my personal page.

On the subject of REST (the acronym) I finally received the speaker feedback for the EMF tutorial Marcelo and I delivered at EclipseCon back in March. As Ed and Michael have been observing lately, EMF is a complex topic, and considering how much Marcelo and I tried to cover in such a short amount of time, I think we did OK. By contrast, REST is actually quite simple; at its core, it is a set of architectural principles for defining, addressing, and manipulating resources in distributed hypermedia systems. The e4 resources team had an interesting discussion about REST during our bi-weekly meeting a couple of weeks ago and Doug suggested I blog about it (hey, better late then never!).

So, what does it mean to make resources more RESTful in e4? The important thing (and biggest challenge, in my mind) will be to look beyond the basics of resources and well-defined operations for manipulating them (which we undoubtedly need), and focus more on the distributed and hypermedia aspects of RESTful applications. After all, this is what we mean when we say we want to "bring the Web to Eclipse", is it not? We really have to free ourselves from the "traditional" ways of doing things and embrace new (and, presumably, better) approaches - indeed, we have to innovate. Much of the work that I've seen in e4 so far has been about how we will continue to do many of the things we've always been doing in Eclipse, but on the new platform. For example, there has been some exploration as to how the Project Explorer might work in e4. Wait a minute! Why assume we even need a Project Explorer (or projects themselves, for that matter) in e4? The new generation of workers (and the Web itself) doesn't rely on structural browsing the way we "dinosaurs" have in the past. They search for things they need now and tag things they want to remember later. Rather than a Project Explorer, why not provide a UI that is optimized for exploring sets of related (hyperlinked) resources and for discovering relationships between them?

I see e4 as an opportunity for integrated tool environments (for modeling, development, you name it) to take a giant leap forward into the future (or is that the present?) in terms of consumability. We just need to find the means and the courage to help Eclipse overcome the gravity of its legacy and launch it into the cloud (and beyond). Yes, this IS the time for change, in so many ways. Eclipse will remain "at rest" unless acted upon by an external force... and that force is you!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

On Elephant Shoes...

Do you remember playing that game when you were young? You'd mouth the words "elephant shoes" to someone and it would look like you were saying "I love you". It was great, because if the boy or girl objected, you could say "What? All I said was 'elephant shoes'!". Apparently, a movie has even been made about it...

A few weeks ago, at EclipseCon, the elephant in the room was that Ed wasn't there, and more specifically, the reason why. The absence of people like this (and others whose presence isn't as noticeable but whose contributions are just as important) is what I was referring to, in part, by "recent events" a couple of posts ago. Ultimately, a large part of what helps me keep my game face is the people - after all, its the contributions of good people that make or break a community of interest.

That was also a common refrain at Enterprise Data World last week - "it's not just about the data, it's about the people". We certainly saw evidence of that at our booth in the exhibit hall. They had a "bingo" game, for a chance to win a free book, with cards where you had to visit each vendor listed on the card and get them to cross of their square (each with a unique color). We were surprised by the number of attendees who asked us to cross off our competitors' squares because they didn't want to have to talk to them. We also saw a number of cards where one of our competitors had scratched our square out with a big "X". Ah well, it takes all kinds...

The ER/Studio community of interest held its annual special interest group (SIG) session last Wednesday, and it went really well. It used to be that a member of the user community had to organize a SIG as part of the official program, but apparently the rules must have changed because one of our competitors was allowed to organize a last-minute SIG themselves. Too bad they forgot to mention when it was...

We also held a cocktail party for about thirty of our closest friends (customers) last Wednesday evening, and it was a raving success. You really get a sense for how much your customers love your products when they're still hanging around long after the event is supposed to end (and the free beer is gone). One of the things we kept hearing was how much our customers appreciate how responsive we are to their needs... for the most part. Things got a little out of hand when some of our customers started placing bets on whether/when EA/Studio models would ever be supported by the ER/Studio Repository and Enterprise Portal. Patience, grasshoppers.

We wrapped up the week on Thursday afternoon by meeting with some members of our Product Advisory Council (PAC). We listened to their needs, presented our plans for this year and next, and gave them a sneak peak of what's in store for our September release of ER/Studio. We received a lot of really good feedback and, overall, folks were really pleased with our road map. All we have to do now is deliver on it!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

On Participation...

I blogged some time ago about my belief that the OMG had to make some changes in order to remain relevant in today's industry. It seems that some of Bjorn's recent thoughts have led some people to express similar beliefs about Eclipse. I delivered a presentation at EclipseCon last year, comparing and contrasting various aspects of these two organizations; I'd like to take moment here to comment on their models of participation.

At Eclipse, participation in projects is open to individuals (as committer members) and, indeed, membership is not even required to participate as a contributor. Privileges (e.g. the ability to write to the source code repository and vote as part of the Eclipse Development Process) are associated with the individual rather than the organization - if an organization discontinues its membership or an employee leaves his/her member employer, the individual retains those privileges. This is good for the individual but not so good for the organization - as Jochen reminded participants of the Eclipse Open Source Executive Strategy Summit, the risks of losing knowledge, leadership, and write access to code when a participating employee (committer) leaves his/her employer should not be underestimated. 

At the OMG, on the other hand, participation in task forces, submission teams, and working groups is generally restricted to representatives of member organizations. Privileges (e.g. the ability to evaluate draft specifications and vote as part of the OMG Technology Adoption Process) are associated with the organization rather than the individual - if an organization discontinues its membership or an employee leaves his/her member employer, the individual loses those privileges. This is good for the organization but not so good for the individual - after all, it's the efforts of individuals that make open specifications a reality, and it seems unfortunate to exclude what could be valuable contributions from individuals just because they don't work for a member company.

I'm not sure whether one model is better than the other, but I'd like to think that maybe a different participation model might better serve the needs of both member organizations and individuals. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

On Your Game Face...

You might say what separates professionals from amateurs is their ability to maintain their game face, even in the face of adversity. Recent events have made it increasingly difficult for me to keep my game face on these days. How do you maintain your game face?

Speaking of games, this coming week is the "Super Bowl" for data modelers, the annual Enterprise Data World conference (formerly DAMA). In fact, as I write this, I'm sitting on the balcony of my hotel room, overlooking the marina at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina. While my presentation is on Sunday evening, I'm very much looking forward to the chance to interact with many of our customers next week, especially at the ER/Studio SIG and Embarcadero Customer Cocktail Party on Wednesday, as well as the Embarcadero Product Advisory Council meeting on Thursday. If you're going to be at the conference, track me down! I'd love to hear your enterprise data stories, especially during these uncertain times.

Monday, March 30, 2009

On The Death of Eclipse (and Modeling)...

Eclipse is dead. That's why, at a time when most conference organizers are, in Mike's words, "either canceling their events or losing their shirts", EclipseCon 2009 will likely turn a profit. That's why companies like Microsoft, for example, sent more attendees to EclipseCon than ever before, and Sun Microsystems (or is that IBM?) was actually a sponsor. That's why the bird's nest attracted more than 250 occupants (many of whom, like me, were first-time tweeters) in just a few days.

Modeling is dead, too. That's why I saw so many fresh faces at my EMF tutorial last Monday. That's why Peter's (Ed's) "stupid modeling" talk was so well-attended (and well-received, from what I've heard). That's why there were not only one, but two, modeling BoFs last week ("the sequel" and "the sequel to the sequel").

Yeah, Eclipse and modeling are "dead". You can go ahead and quote me on that. But if you do, please don't take my words out of context.

(Oh, and if you can't sense the sarcasm in this post, I'd be concerned that Eclipse and modeling aren't the only things that are dead...)

Friday, March 20, 2009

On Switching Gears...

And so, DataRage has come and gone. What an event! I have to say that it was so good, today feels a little anti-climactic. If you missed it (you shouldn't have!), recordings of the sessions will be made available in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for details.

Now, it's time for me to switch gears and get ready for next week's big event - EclipseCon 2009! I (and my cohort, Marcelo) have spent a fair bit of time over the past couple of weeks getting material ready for our EMF tutorial on Monday. I'm relieved to finally be able to say that we're ready... at least we hope we are. ;)

I've posted the slides for our tutorial on SlideShare and added a link to them from the session page. Or, if you want, you can watch them below. I'd like to say a special thanks to Ed for allowing us to reuse much of the content from one of his tutorials in our presentation. Ed, you will surely be missed next week, but make no mistake - despite your absence, your presence will still be felt!

Friday, March 6, 2009

On Recurring Rage...

It's happening all over again! For the first time ever! Embarcadero is hosting another virtual conference, but this time for the dataheads out there (you know who you are). Dubbed  "DataRage", this  virtual conference is three days of online technical sessions focused on database development and data management issues. And, like its CodeRage predecessors, it's free. Looking at the agenda, it's nice to see that so many sessions are about one of my products, ER/Studio. You ought to check it out.

Speaking of ER/Studio, the last time I blogged (wow, has it really been that long?), I had just arrived in Iaşi for a couple of weeks of planning with my ER/Studio development team. While watching this past Sunday's episode of The Amazing Race (which took place in Romania), I was reminded that I haven't yet posted the pictures I promised to share. So, here goes nothing.

Târgu Secuiesc

We started out on a 1000 km trek across the Romanian countryside early on a Saturday morning. Really early. After a few of hours of driving, we decided to stop for breakfast in a quaint town called Târgu Secuiesc. It had some of the most colorful buildings I saw during my two-week stay in Romania.

This town is in the part of Romania where the majority of the population is of Hungarian descent There was a statue of a famous Hungarian hero, Áron Gábor, in the square near where we parked the car.


Now that our stomachs were full, we set out to do what all good tourists do when in Transylvania - find Dracula. What better place to find Dracula than in what's come to be known as "Dracula's Castle", near Bran?

We were a little disappointed to find out that the castle seemed to be more about Queen Maria than the famous vampire. But, we were happy to have seen it nonetheless, as evidenced by the smiles on our faces, below. Here, you can see some of the key members of the ER/Studio management team - me (Program Manager, Modeling and Design Solutions), Kim Ouye (Vice President, Development), Jim Brodrick (Director, Development), and Jason Hahn (Software Development Manager, ER/Studio).


Our next stop was Braşov, where we planned to spend the night. We took what we were told would be a 20 minute walk (yeah, right) to a cable car from which we could get a vista of the old part of the city.

After getting a bird's eye view, we spent the evening wandering around the cobblestone streets. One of the highlights was the famous "Black Church" (Biserica Neagră) , which ironically (given its age - it dates back to 1477) sported a clock dated 1999.


The next day, we set out to find the birthplace of the inspiration for Dracula, Vlad the Impaler. He was allegedly born in the citadel of Sighişoara.

This medieval city was probably my favorite stop on our adventure. Its landmark is the Clock Tower, which was built in 1360.

Bicaz Canyon

We spent the rest of Sunday returning back to Iaşi through the Bicaz Canyon in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains. Our first stop along the way was at Red Lake (Lacul Roşu) whose name comes from the reddish alluvia deposited in the lake by the Red Creek. Kim (our VP) told us that, on previous visits, he had both walked around the lake and paddled on the lake, and now he wanted to walk on the lake. Before we could stop him he was wandering out on the ice in the middle of the lake.

Our last stop in the mountains was Lake Bicaz, the largest artificial lake in the interior of Romania. Kim mentioned there was restaurant that he was told was located "in the middle of the lake". We found it, but discovered that, while not quite in the middle of the lake, it was in the lake - on a boat. Unfortunately it was closed, so after enjoying the view for a bit, we headed back to Iaşi.

Monday, January 19, 2009

On Vision...

I met an elderly woman in the United Express check-in line yesterday. Unprompted, she proceeded to tell me how she came all the way from New Mexico to spend a week with a man she had met over the Internet. She had come to Ottawa on blind faith that things would work out. They didn't.

After nearly a year and a half of employment with Embarcadero, it was finally time that I made my inaugural visit to the epicentre of the company's product development. I placed my faith in the pilots and crew of several aircraft over the past day or so, with the expectation that they'd get me safely to Washington, then Vienna, and, eventually, Iasi. They did.

How many of the personal or professional things that you do depend on blind faith? Do you have faith that your doctors are doing all they can do to help preserve your well-being? Do you have faith that your employees are really working when they work from home? Do you have faith that your executive team is taking the company where it needs to go? Some things are out of our hands, but others are not.

At Embarcadero, we don't rely on blind faith to decide where our products are going. We rely on vision. As a program manager, much of my job is about vision. Just as Scott McCloud says, we program managers strive to learn from everyone (especially our Product Advisory Council, or PAC), follow no one, watch for patterns, and work like hell.

As I embark on a week of project planning here in Iasi, and think about what's in store for our customers in 2009, I can't help but be excited about what the future will bring. What are you doing to understand your future? Do you have a vision?

Friday, January 9, 2009

On the Last Year of the Ohties...

Some have started this New Year by posting a list of their most popular blog entries from 2008. I've decided instead to enter (albeit a little late) the last year of the ohties (in this century) with a wordle of my blog.

I guess it's obvious what's occupied my time over the past year. It'll be interesting to see how different it will look a year from now...