Unstealthing Radar

18 October 2007

day-job events social web-30

Radar Networks, my former employer, is finally going public with what they're up to. To be honest, at this point even I have no clue what they're launching. I've been gone for a while, and they seem to have been massively busy and hiring the past 9 months. I'll be watching intently, to see what they've done.

At the Web2.0 Summit on October 19th, Radar Networks will announce a revolutionary new service that uses the power of the emerging Semantic Web to enable a smarter way of sharing, organizing and finding information. Founder and CEO Nova Spivack will also give the first public preview of Radar’s application, which is one of the first examples of “Web 3.0” – the next-generation of the Web, in which the Web begins to function more like a database, and software grows more intelligent and helpful.

Update #1:

Read/Write Web has done up their review of Twine, Radar's product. So did VentureBeat.

Update #2:

More reviews from...

Land of Cheese

21 September 2007

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Picture 9.pngNo, not Wisconsin.

Nor the Happy Cows of California.

I'm heading to Switzerland next week.

Finally, I get to actually use Dopplr. I'm one of those remote-type web workers, so this international trip is chance for me to actually have some face-time with my boss.

"Stop by my office before you go home" doesn't work so well in a distributed company such as Red Hat.

Trip Report: JavaOne 2007

15 May 2007

community day-job events java jboss jbossorg social

I got back from my first ever JavaOne, and I'd have to say it was a success.

First the obligatory "look how cool I am" section...

Name dropping


Drank too much with Hani of the BileBlog. Congratulated Cameron John Purdy at the Tangosol party. Finally met Phil Dodds and Brett Porter, from DevZuz. Dan Diephouse and Paul R. Brown ("Yes, we're the XFire guys") had candy at their booth. Jason Hunter handed me an invite to the Google party, where I finally met Crazy Bob Lee (one of the damn nicest people ever). There I chatted with Ola Bini who is a man who makes me feel short. Re-met Jon Tirsen after a 3-year hiatus (the first hausparty in Amsterdam). Paul Hammant expounded on Mingle and other things over bowls of curry. Chatted with Matt Quail and Pete Moore of Cenqua a bit while absconding with Google t-shirts. Chatted with Matthew Porter of Contegix, the hosting providers of the Codehaus. Stood around (in my JBoss shirt) in front of the IBM booth chatting with Lauren Cooney. Met Guillaume LaForge and Graeme Rocher finally. Put some faces with the Exadel guys I'd worked with during the opensourcing of their products. Greg Wilkins reminded me the Codehaus SSL cert was expired (fixed now). Geert Bevin was as enthusiastic as ever at the TerraCotta booth. Ran into Jeremy Boynes in the lobby of the W on my way out of town. Jason van Zyl wandered the streets of San Francisco with me in search of a 7-11 and an ATM. Alex Vasseur dropped by the JBoss party to discuss event stream processing. James Strachan and Rob Davis were everywhere, of course.


Did some podcast recording with Tom Baeyens, Emmanuel Bernard, Bill Burke and Gavin King. Chatted with Thomas Diesler, Michael Yuan, Matt Quinlan, and Sacha Labourey. Enjoyed dinner with James Cobb, Mark Newton and Bela Ban. Damon Sicore, my predecessor, dropped by the JBoss party. Met innumerable coworkers whos names all fail me during my stints in or near the JBoss booth.

The fabulous Cindy Scheneck, Rebecca Goldstein and Chantal Yang arranged the booth, the party, the printing of the t-shirts and everything else that made it all awesome. Mad props to that trio, Burr Sutter, and the gaggle of sales-engineers who did an awesome job with the attendees.


With the large investment announced by Interface21, a lot of side-line analysis of business models was happening. Exactly where is the sweet spot of professional opensource? Is it training? Certifying a stack that you control? Supporting a stack that you don't? Purely professional services?

At the booth, technical demos seemed well received. A large screen and a good sound-system were definitely a wise investment. Every demo drew a large crowd around the booth. A lucky few got to see Gavin debug a demo live on stage. Seam is definitely hot this year.

Luckier still are those who "received" a "free" copy of Michael Yuan's book about Seam. Did I mention Seam is apparently hot?

We all need to realize that parties can occur on nights other than Wednesday. Luckily the JBoss->Eclipse->Google triathlon worked out, but many parties were concurrently scheduled.

I heard a lot of positive feedback from people I met about liking what we're doing at JBoss.org. They like the new look and layout. When it's common for people to throw around criticism and negativity, it's really nice to hear kind words. Sure, we've still got a long way to go, I'll readily admit, but I think we're doing a-okay.

In general, conferences like these are somewhat educational, definition inspirational, and help cement human-to-human relationships. While we all might be competitors, we're not enemies. In the world of opensource, we share the same community, so we all might as well get along and order another round of beers. Conferences demonstrate these cross-cutting commonalities that crosses P statements.

Occupational Heritage

01 May 2007

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ricky_gervais2.jpgToday is May Day, also known as International Workers' Day. It seems like a good time to reflect upon work.

Particularly since I don't get the day off.

My wife comes from a long line of railroad workers. Her father worked at the railroad until his recent retirement. His father also worked at the railroad until he retired. In this family, "the railroad" of course means specifically Norfolk-Southern. Growing up, my wife's dad wanted his daughters to work for the railroad in some capacity. Alas, neither did. But they are still a "railroad family".

My father didn't go into work from 9-5 at an office. He was gone before I woke, home mid-afternoon, normally worked holidays, and could be found at any one of three different hospitals when he was on the job. In general, I didn't grow up with a father who "went to the office". His father was in the military, and then worked as a county extension agent. In both cases, he would probably be found in a field, and have his work-hours dictated by sunlight. Coming from a small family, I simply wasn't exposed to people who went into the office.

I'm proud to be continuing a long line of people who "don't go into work" since I work from my basement office and deal with people across 7 hours of timezones. I tried an office job. Once. Didn't like it. Won't do that again.

Even if you have a radically different career than your ancestors, is there some strain of commonality in your occupational heritage?

Uncle Traveling Bob

23 February 2007

day-job java jboss traveling

mattpicture8we.jpg I'm going to be in Austin, Texas all next week for the Day Job. Seems like most folks I used to know in Austin have moved to Houston or other places. If you are in Austin, and particularly if you want to buy me some beers, let me know.

I don't know the area, but it seems I'll be near the Northwest District Park.

The Metamorphosis

07 February 2007

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Monday morning, I woke up to find myself transformed into a Red Hat employee.

Yes, that's right, I've joined Red Hat. More specifically, I joined JBoss, a division of Red Hat, to lead up JBoss.ORG . You may recall that a little more than a year ago, JBoss acquired the Drools business rule engine. At that time, Mark Proctor joined JBoss to lead Drools, while I wandered off to pursue other interests. In the intervening time, I followed the project of course. I was impressed with how well it functioned under the larger umbrella of JBoss. When the JBoss.ORG community-centric opportunity arose, I felt I had to finally jump aboard the good ship JBoss.

And here I am.

I join a talented team who already have a lot of cool things underway:

(You may now notice that my decision to learn Polish wasn't quite as arbitrary as it may have initially seemed.)

JBoss is of course one of the pioneers of the professional open-source model. In that, we can never forget our open-source community roots, even when vast sums of money are thrown around. Ultimately all open-source survives and grows based upon goodwill. Tending to the community is required, else you risk alienating your own users. I aim to use my experiences from a variety of open-source projects and communities to make sure the JBoss community is one of which I'm proud to be a member.

So, what exactly am I going to do?

I'm going to find our weaknesses within how we handle our community. Anything that we could be doing better. Perhaps an existing bit of the infrastructure used by projects is irritating. Perhaps we're missing some tooling that folks wished we had. Perhaps we need to help projects organize their documentation or create some tutorials.

Within a community is a continuum of participation. Our job is to remove anything that stands in the way of people moving as far along as they wish.


Once impediments are torn down, a feedback loop exists, with community members helping each other.

I'm truly excited about this opportunity to work with open-source communities full-time. Things are afoot. And let me know what you think we need to do so that we can leave you with warm and happy thoughts of JBoss at the end of the day.

Update: Here is the official press release (PDF)

Jobless Slacker

03 February 2007

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No Job!Well, as of this evening, I'm willfully unemployed. At least for a few days.

For about the past 18 months, I've had a kick-ass time working with the smart folkses over at Radar Networks. It was my first-ever experience in a funded startup and was certainly exciting. I watched us grow from about 3 folks to over 17 last time I checked. During this time of growth, I wore many hats and enjoyed the variety. I'll definitely keep an eye on them and hope for their continued success.

But life moves in phases, and that phase is over for me. Today I started my jobless slacker phase. Unfortunately, it is only scheduled to last until Monday morning.

Sure, some of you already know where I'm landing next, but don't spoil it for the other kids. I'll blog it up when the time is right.

100% Pure Ruby(tm)

26 September 2006

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Picture 34.pngRecently I've been doing a fair amount of work in Ruby. And yes, I've felt super-productive. Particularly compared to Java.

The downside of working in Java is the 100% Pure Java(tm) mentality. In the search for a clean and cohesive system, we take the attitude that if it's not pure Java, it's crap. In Java, if we need something to happen periodically, we might examine TimerTask, decide it's insufficient and move on to Quartz. So we add it to our build, figure out the API, realize it conflicts with some other dependency. Well, damn.

With Ruby, it's scripty enough to not feel the need to have a 100% Pure Ruby(tm) mentality. A Ruby system needs something to occur periodically, we just open a pipe to crontab and hand that bit off to cron.

"But Windows doesn't have cron!"

Too bad.

Use a better operating system.

The majority of systems deploy to Linux or some other Unix-alike. Developing on a Unix-ish system only makes sense. You wouldn't prepare to drive an RV by tooling around in a Kia Sportage, now would you?

When you break free of the JVM mentality and assume a sensible host operating system, you realize that the OS itself is your virtual machine to play in. If it's in your $PATH and can be expected to behave reasonably well on any sane Unix-like OS, by all means, use it.

Back to the premise... Since Ruby is indeed "scripty" you can accomplish a crapload just using a pair of backticks, effectively not even using Ruby at all.

And you can do it without guilt or complication. Completely unlike punting to Runtime.exec(...). That always makes you feel dirty.

Perhaps Groovy and JRuby will help break the never-escape-the-JVM attitude. Give a developer backticks and easy pipes to subprocesses, and no telling what sort of nefarious things he might could do.

Cow Orking

15 September 2006

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I'm finally home after a trip to San Francisco to meet my co-workers. It truly was surreal, in that I've been working for The Job for about a year, and had never met a co-worker, aside from Pete. When I joined, the team was 3 other people, and we were all in different states. New York. North Carolina. Michigan, California.

Now we are 18.

This is the first funded startup I've been a part of, and it's been fun to watch the growth of a company. I think we've assembled an excellent team of talented individuals. It certainly is a rather eclectic group (no, the children are not employees).

It is somewhat strange being the odd-man-out, clear across the country. This trip through, to finally meet everyone, helped solidify the realness of it all. When everyone is in different states, you've got a hip distributed team. When there's just one guy in the hills near the moonshine shack, he's just a remote worker . Ultimately, I wouldn't trade my grits and banjos for the world, and am grateful that an organization such as Radar is jiggy enough to keep a hillbilly round. But while proximity doesn't matter to Subversion or Jabber, we are all humans, and faces do matter.

I'd like to travel out there more often, and I aim to finally locate and hook up the iSight.

The point to this post? Technology allows you to never actually meet humans, but I wouldn't recommend it.

The Lazy Coast

04 September 2006

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Picture 23.png My luxurious jet-set lifestyle is taking me to the San Francisco area in a week. September 10th through the 14th, I'll be in the general area of all things 2.0. I'm truly excited to finally get to meet my coworkers. Yes, I've worked for Radar Networks for just about a year now. No, I've never met a single coworker while employed with Radar Networks. I have met Peter Royal before, but that was before either of us worked for the company.

I am tentatively thinking of a Tuesday (12 September) evening Codehaus Oof Uncamp Conference 2.0, where hausmates, sympathizers, collaborators and detractors can gather to do no camping but rather consume some Beers 2.0 . Though, who knows. Maybe we'll do it Wednesday, or Sunday. We're agile.

Locals will need to suggest some good location and pick my ass up near Chinatown.