Thursday 3 December 2009

Chrome OS getting some press

People are already taking the initial build of chrome OS (currently Chromium OS) out for a spin. I'm rather looking forward to it as a saviour for my old HP laptop and perhaps something that would sit well on my eee pc.

lifehacker article:

Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture Framework

Came across the PEAF through the Google EA discussion group. Preliminary glance suggests that it is quite an accessible framework. The model feels less complete than the TOGAF one and I'm concerned that some of the missing items are actually useful - so there's less focus on logical information as you might expect in a pragmatic view.
The method feels very light touch to me at present, but as I say this is based on a glance through the material.

Will be interesting to see if this gains any ground.

Thursday 15 October 2009

TOGAF 9 one pager...

Been talking to the open group chaps looking at TOGAF about my one pager description of TOGAF 9. They've made some useful comments, hope to get something out soon.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

On thinking and change

This post on Inside Architecture really resonated with me. The topic is that getting people to think is hard, getting people to change is hard - getting folks to do both at the same time is nearly impossible.

This is very much in line with my experience. Sometimes I've produced something to provoke thought and been asked how this should be changed, i.e. the other party doesn't want to think. I've also proposed change that has provoked thinking.

Friday 9 October 2009

Details of the TOGAF 8 to 9 bridge exam

For those who are interested. Architecting the Enterprise happen to be the provider I used for the course. They're credited with some of the content in the text and as I said before - I heartily recommend them.

Architecting the Enterprise - The Exam Shop - Prometric TOGAF 9 Bridge

Thursday 8 October 2009

TOGAF 8 Certified

Looks like I'll get confirmation that I'm TOGAF 8 anytime now. Quite exciting. Now, should i go for the TOGAF 8 to 9 bridge exam?

Monday 5 October 2009

TOGAF 9 overview

I found the course to be very useful and provided me with some key insights. I put this one pager together capturing the key elements of greatest import to me, which I can't share yet given the conditions of use statement. I can refer you here though:

Heartily recommend Graham Berrisford as a trainer, he was knowledgeable and articulate. I'd also recommend Architecting the Enterprise in general.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Thursday 17 September 2009

off on a TOGAF 9 course next week

rather looking forward to it. read the bulk of the book so interested in opportunity to ask some questions.

trainers contributed to v9 TOGAF book.

Monday 7 September 2009

Turns out my personality type is "Rational" - Rational

In fact an Architect (INTP) to be precise. Apparently people of this type excel at being able to classify and think abstractly about the real world. David Keirsey's model therefore directly appeals to me as a method of interacting and understanding the people around me. Actually in his book David Keirsey admits to being a Rational thinker, so perhaps this is why his style appeals to me.

This is proving to be a useful 'in' for me in terms of improving my emotional intelligence - something I think is important for my role but doesn't come naturally to me.

Perhaps other 'architect's out there may find it of use too.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Sometimes you just need a decision

Sometimes all that is needed to proceed is a decision. It's best if it is the optimal decision, but it doesn't have to be - it just needs to be good enough and have everyone signed up to it. A lack of a decision leads to argument, confusion and wasted effort.

Sometimes you just need a decision, so my advice is to go ahead and do it.

Thursday 23 July 2009

Digital pens aid efficiency?

A recent article* in the BCS magazine on the NHS use of digital pen technology proving more useful/cost effective than laptops or tablet PC's led me to wonder whether this would be useful for me - would auto digitising my notes improve my personal efficiency?

There seem to be two types:
1. A pen that requires special paper to be able to capture notes
2. A pen with a separate sensor that captures the pens movements over normal paper

An example of the first type is the livescribe pen - this actually records the audio as you write as well and is very well featured. It does require livescribe notepaper to work which has it's pro's and cons. You can print this yourself. There are other solutions like anoto that work on special paper - actually with anoto this comes with software that can add the digital marks required to pages you print from your local printer so you can print PDF forms and the software can generate the PDF with your notes on it when you sync the pen (I believe this is the solution the nhs are looking at).

A good example of the second type is the Dane-Elec Zpen which needs you to clip a small USB device to the page before you write. You can write on any paper and then sync the drawings on to your computer.

So there is technology out there that is well established and mature, it works although has a number of constraints - can I use it? There are security concerns about the data that might reside on the pen - I'm assuming one can't encrypt the data in the same way one can on a tablet pc or laptop. With voice recording folks may find it disconcerting or indeed it may stop meetings in some cases.

Interesting problems that deserve more research on my part.

From a solution point of view it does look like a great technology for areas where tablets, laptops and pc's are not viable data capture devices and you don't want to increase your scanning base.

* Can't get a link to the original article but here are some others

Wednesday 8 July 2009

How to have more self-discipline | Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist

Some interesting observations that apply equally to the busy software architect...

How to have more self-discipline | Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist

Official Google Blog: Introducing the Google Chrome OS

Perhaps this says as much about my view of humanity as humanity itself - I rather suspect that as long as the new OS supports gaming, communication and commerce well, and also supports p0rn in some way then it will do very well.

Official Google Blog: Introducing the Google Chrome OS

Monday 15 June 2009

The value of learning

One key intangible benefit that may be learnt from the agile approach to fail early / fail often is that of learning. By this I mean the project team learns how to operate but also the business learns what the change could mean and how their requirements could be realised.

It's possible to articulate this as a tangible benefit in terms of cost avoidance but this is difficult to articulate. The cost avoided from re-implementing around an error or the value of implementing a right solution is hard to calculate.

The real value of learning should not be underestimated however.

Articulating options

When presenting a number of different solutions to a given problem there are two key elements:
1. What are the key points that describe each option and
2. What differentiates each option.

It is key in a paper discussing architecutral options that both are considered to allow the relevant group to make a decision.

Monday 18 May 2009

Tuesday 31 March 2009

Just pondering this post on mobile phones in Tesco's

In Nick Lansley's post he discusses using the wifi capability on most modern smart phones to do some marketing and offering some useful targetted functionality - i.e. find a product or you might like product X. This article also points to a stronger tie in between mobile phones and the tesco clubcard features.

Using an open access point to nab someones browser and forward it to some local content is a useful idea - as Nick points out this is how hotels and trains tend to charge folks for using their wifi services. Certainly things like local map of the store, store special offers, latest news - all feels like good things. Hook this up with social networking and you could choose to have your friends informed that you're down the local Tesco.

These two got me thinking about other ways you could use mobiles in store and possibly so real time analytics that could be gained. So my recollection of the Where 2.0 convention was that there was some tech there that tracked folks mobile phones - a little digging and I found an oreilly link for the results of where 2.0. In theory the foot path system from path intelligence could allow tescos to track all customers around the store. I'm guessing similar technology exists for Wifi signals - indeed Google's latitude technology is partially based on doing just this.

Makes me wonder if Tesco are already doing this? I assume there is some tracking technology in use.

If not then this coupled with the two mobile activities above could garner some incredible MI. In theory it wouldn't be too hard to link a customers clubcard number to their wifi MAC address or their IMEI number and track how people get around the store. It's all a little big brother but I think some interesting applications could arise - i.e. as a bloke I like to get in and out of the store asap- in, grab stuff i want, pay, leave (possibly browse the electronics bit).

Now if I could see a map of how I traverse the store with suggestions about alternate routes - or even just the store was organised to better support me (assuming I'm average joe public) purchasing things then that would be great.

Tie that up with some web2.0 social networking and you could share and invite comments on your route round the store - just imagine the facebook update : Craig spent 137.51 in 1 hour 18 minutes and 4 seconds at Tesco Purley. ahem - maybe going a bit far.

Also to avoid the recent faux pas in google's street view roll out some sensitive areas would need to be handled - like spending undue amount of time perusing adult magazines or in the pregnancy test section.

Still, in principle sharing my purchases and route with friends and getting useful comments back would be good - why are you buying that? X is cheaper.. or Have you tried Y, it's available just here...

Just some musings, more thoughts in my head but lunch time slot for blogging coming to an end...

Oh, and as for the 'no mobile signal half way through the store' issue would it be friendly of tesco to install some signal repeaters?

Saturday 28 March 2009

how not to treat your customers

I was so shocked by the handling of this message I thought it worth sharing - clearly written by lawyers and not marketeers. The message could have been "we're doing this to improve service to our European customers" but comes across as "we're restructuring, cancel your account if you don't like it"...


We have a short but important announcement that we wanted to share with our players. World of Warcraft is currently an operation of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (USA), but starting April 14, 2009, the game operator will be Blizzard Entertainment's central European entity, Blizzard Entertainment S.A.S. (France), and will be referred to as such in the game's Terms of Use going forward. Our European office has been an essential part of our global operations since before the launch of World of Warcraft, and this update better reflects its role within our organization, as well as our continued commitment to our European players.

This is an administrative change -- your World of Warcraft game experience will not be impacted. If for any reason you do not agree to this change you may terminate your account with effect from March 31, 2009 by accessing the cancellation feature in the account management page at Note that your continued use of the World of Warcraft service indicates that you agree to the change.

We're looking forward to continuing to enhance your World of Warcraft gaming experience in the year ahead, and as always, we wish you happy continued adventures in Azeroth!

The World of Warcraft Team

Monday 23 March 2009

Design-thinking works…even for geeks | slide:ology

Brings a slightly more corporate view to 'back of a fag packet'. I like the idea of having the template slides with you in miniature in a back pocket.

Design-thinking works…even for geeks | slide:ology

Monday 16 March 2009

Prezi - The zooming presentation editor

The number of times I've done BIG pictures and then walked through them with an audience by pointing out parts of the diagram or map. Wish I'd had something like this Prezi solution - would have been superb. Hopefully I can get involved in the Beta and try it out.
Prezi - The zooming presentation editor

Thanks to @mhw for the link.

Tuesday 10 March 2009

Moving from Technologist to IT Architect

As a programmer I recall thinking about key skills, knowledge of programming languages, exposure to different environments and protocols and generally being very good at solving abstract puzzles. I note now that the skills and knowledge I value are quite different although I still need the background knowledge.

This actually forms part of the question about how an experience programmer or technology worker moves into the area of Systems Architecture. I recall my own growth and leading the technology in one of my early roles. I recall immersing myself in the detail, becoming familiar with all the protocols the system used, the languages required and configuration methods through the architecture. I recall discovering design patterns by a circuitous route and embedding those into my set of skills.

In recent years though I've spent more time looking at people than technology. Questions I face daily are
  • how do I present this information so that this stakeholder understands the key issues at hand?
  • how am I going to get this message across concisely?
  • who must I influence to make this change happen?
  • what are the key concerns of the people in the meeting with me?
As a result much of the things I read about lately are more to do with leadership, expressing information and around social intelligence. I've also spent time changing my appearance, working with the ideas in and getting personal coaching on my appearance in order to have greater impact. Of course we all worry about money, so much of my time is now spent talking about money and converting technical lingo in the £££ (both benefits and costs).

Perhaps then the key leap for a technologist into an IT Architect role is to become as familiar with the protocols and inner workings of people as we are with the protocols and inner workings of computers. Oh, and to be able to put a value to such things.

Thursday 5 February 2009

Modelling time sequence dependancies in EA modelling tools - Smart421’s Staff Weblog

Considering the target audience for EA modelling tools it does strike me as odd that modelling 'time' has been largely forgotten. In the post below the author discuss 'what if' scenarios but frankly even in basic TOGAF terms you have to build a baseline and target view - how can this most basic of requirements have been missed? Using the tool available to me my option appears to be to have two models and rely on copy and paste.

Modelling time sequence dependancies in EA modelling tools - Smart421’s Staff Weblog

TOGAF 9 - First impressions

Firstly I'll introduce myself to give some perspective to this post. I'm fairly new to TOGAF, I was already reading 8.1.1 and felt I had a reasonable grasp of the content. I am in the process of writing a summary up for my colleagues. I am not TOGAF certified at this time.

So TOGAF 9 was released recently and I got hold of the PDF copy yesterday (finally a use for my Sony e-book reader). On first look the document is far better organised than 8.1.1 and there is more content.

Much of the content is the same, however the there are some useful additions. Of most value is the new Architecture Content Framework section, and chapter 35 within there. This gives a great deal more insight into the types of views, viewpoints and artefacts that are useful at different stages of building the architecture. This was at best alluded to in the previous document and the absence of useful discussion on the subject was one of my principle criticisms. Section 35.6 offers a taxonomy and as such is a good overview of the topic.

I would particularly draw attention to the section on stake holder management (chapter 24) which serves as at least a good introduction to the subject and provides some useful, if common tools. In my opinion this is a key capability of an Architect at any level and deserves more discussion than was given in 8.1.1.

In short, far far better organised and with some great additional content - well worth the time and money investment even if you're familiar with TOGAF 8.1.1.

Thumbs up.

Mike Walker gives a useful view in this blog post

Technorati Tags: ,,

Updated: Added links to the opengroup website for the relevant sections

Thursday 29 January 2009

What do IT Architects do?

This is a question that's plagued me for some time when I've been introducing myself in the pub or discussing with friends my role. A lot of work has been done on Systems Architecture and various levels of IT Architect role.

In reading up on TOGAF I think there is a very good description of what an Enterprise Architect should do, although the amount of experience required to be able to do it means that the TOGAF ADM doesn't really say how you do it. Interesting to see other bloggers trying to bring this to life: How to bring TOGAF to life: Why Enterprise Architects should use TOGAF

Tuesday 27 January 2009

IBM's product positioning and branding

IBM never cease to amaze me in how they make their product portfolio so complex answering simple questions like 'which of your products is right for me?' becomes really difficult.

Case in point to today is the selection of mashup products available. Take a look at IBM's mash up centre and you're offered 4 apparently competing but different products! Perhaps it'll be worth writing a post in the future offering some advice on how these differ but for now I just wanted to express my incredulity...