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Gone Fishing

I am on leave for the summer, so will be taking a break from any tech blogging for the near future.  You will probably see a lot more random, off-topic posts like my report from Grandma’s Marathon for a short while. 

Enjoy, and all of you should take a summer off sometime (especially the Dads).

Completing 26.2

I ran my first full marathon last weekend and wrote up the gory details in a First Marathon report.  It was Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN and it was a fantastic peak experience that was nothing like I had planned.

A Good Time to be (in) Manly

A Sydney travel blog picked up one of my flickr photos in a post about the Manly Food and Wine Festival:

The Sydney Traveler – Food Festival Meets Sustainable Living in Manly

That was a great time, and any of you in the Sydney area are advised to check that event out. I dropped by the festival after my surf lesson at Manly Surf School – what a day. If the family had been there it would have been just perfect.

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Where Are Aspects When You Need Them?

I had a brief encounter with aspects at the Colorado Software Summit a couple years back. I was glad to finally get a bit oriented to AOP, to which I had been blissfully ignorant, and decided that I had incredibly limited interest in the topic. Of all things, I kept wondering why AOP did not appear to be widely applied to the presentation layer, which was the first place I would think it to be.

Along comes Matt talking about extensionless URLs (a pet interest of mine) and dropping lines like this:

In an ideal world, it’d be possible to modify the <a> tag at the very core of the view framework you’re using to automatically encode the URL of any “href” attributes.

There you go – a cross-cutting concern if there ever was one. Where is our AOP for the presentation layer?

A Few Almost Speaking Engagements

March and April turned out to be my big chance to turn down speaking engagements. They all sounded like interesting events and the topic in each case was adoption of social media and social software in a large enterprise setting – a topic of keen interest to me. But unfortunately, scheduling just didn’t work out in each case.

The first invite came from Cutter Consortium for their Summit 2008 event in Boston. They’ve got a great looking agenda, and a smaller more intimate conference. There are currently a number of their advisors speaking, so I was pleased to be invited to represent the IT / buy-side interests.

Next was an invite for a MIMA panel on Duality Reality: Who Controls Social Media in the Enterprise? I have yet to attend a MIMA event, so this would have been a fun event for me. And with all of those creatives on the panel, they need an IT guy like me to be a wet blanket on things. 😉

Last was the Burton Group Catalyst Conference in San Diego. To be fair, Mike and I really just talked by phone and email about the possibility of me participating, but I pulled my name before I was officially invited. I’m sure this will be a fabulous event for those who are able to attend. You don’t have to read Mike for long to know that he knows what he’s doing in this area.

So maybe next time gang, but thanks for the offers – keep ’em coming.

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Relay For Life

If you read Mike Gotta’s blog, you might have missed a brief mention of his daughter’s efforts in the Relay For Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, or the discreet sidebar item he has on his blog.

Consider if just a percentage of Mike’s 1700+ readers made a small donation to her relay team, it’s going to add up fast.  I made a small donation, and urge others to do so to – who hasn’t had loved ones affected by cancer in some way?  Think of it as a cheap voluntary subscription fee to a great blog.

So give Meagan a hand.


MinneBar Coming – Bait Your Hook

So the next MinneBar is coming up on Saturday, May 10th, and will be at the U of M. I will continue my tradition of keen interest in this event, and non-attendance. They have chosen to schedule this on the same weekend as the Walleye fishing opener in Minnesota, and I have my loyalties. As much as I would love to be geeking out, I will probably be wetting a line somewhere with wife and kids instead, and loving it.

I would personally love to see a BarCamp during the week (I know, I know – then organize one) – weekends are precious and I like my family time.    Best of luck to both BarCamp-ers and anglers that weekend!

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Who is Sick? Check Your Feed.

My ongoing investigations into online health communities brought me to Who is Sick?, a Google Maps mashup in beta that lets users post the seriously gory details of their symptoms so that they are incredibly findable. I learned a 29-year-old woman from Minneapolis picked up a stomach bug in Cancun within the last month, probably one of many – happy Spring Break!. The site brings back memories of Edward Tufte celebrating John Snow’s map of the London cholera epidemic in one of his books (was it Visual Explanations?).

Posters can post anonymously or by name, can indicate symptoms, and can also tag them. Voyeurs can search by location and familiar GMaps navigation, or by a symptoms tag cloud (try that on for a visualization). You can subscribe to email alerts, and I’m just sure that feeds are coming.

Who is Sick? is a curious idea – potentially cool, but if there was ever a 2.0-ish community that was only as good as the data available, this is it. I can’t remember feeling like posting my nasty symptoms last time I wasn’t feeling up to snuff, but who knows. And will this really give me more insight into an outbreak than socializing with local friends and parents? Perhaps the payoff is larger… we’ll be empowered to take on our local government by discovering our own polluted water supply, a la John Snow.

In my book, Who is Sick? just begs for RIA and interactivity… just think of the interactive and visual possibilities of navigating by symptoms and ailments.

Health 2.0 Conference Starts Today – How About a Community Tag?

So the Health 2.0 conference – Spring 2008 starts today. I was not a good match for the Spring agenda, but hopefully will be speaking there this Fall.

Would all of the bloggers in attendance be kind enough to agree on a community tag, so that those of us not fortunate enough to attend can still tune in? Perhaps bloggers could add a Technorati tag of health2con to all posts, and then all could subscribe to the feed at to get conference updates.

Matt, what do you think?

Book Review: Web 2.0 Design Patterns – Must Read

I had the pleasure of reading the soon-to-be-published Web 2.0 Design Patterns, but am seriously late getting my thoughts out (sorry guys!). In short, this book is well worth the read.

Duane, James, and Dion captured a high-speed drive by of all things 2.0, carefully deconstructing all of the cool tools we’ve been having so much fun with recently. They setup the book with a dissection of some flagship Web 2.0 properties, and contextualization of key memes. Next they define applicable models for capturing Web 2.0 in a pattern language. One my favorite aspects of this chapter was the use of “low end” modeling techniques – such as concept maps, and HTML <meta> tags as a form of WSDL for simple HTTP services. Being an Agilist and a practicalist, I like to see less well refined techniques legitimized. In true 2.0 style, the authors use what works, not just what is academically proscribed.

But the core of the book is a pattern reference. As they state in the intro to that section, it’s not likely something you will read straight through – though it’s certainly well written enough to do so. Each pattern is appropriately brief, but still hangs meat off the bone enough to be useful. The landscape of defined patterns is broad, and oddly shaped. SOA and Mashup are patterns, as are Semantic Web and Microformats. This struck me oddly at first – maybe I was hoping for something more homogenous from a developer’s point of view. But the authors make it work. I have to admit it was amusing to see memes like SOA and SaaS reduced to a pattern template. (Though where is the missing reference to in the Known Uses for the SaaS pattern?) The authors also extract new patterns native to the Web 2.0 landscape that are very insightful: Participation-Collaboration and Asynchronous Particle Update are very well done.

This book has a definite place on my bookshelf. Useful reference to be sure, but I can also imagine using this as a tool for evangelizing inside a large enterprise. To convert some minds, a pattern-based description might give some of these approaches more legitimacy. But the simple descriptions, useful models, and thoughtful examples in any context will provide the basis for a common understanding of Web 2.0 techniques.

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