My blog has moved! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit and update your bookmarks.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

CIO Insights Article

A few months ago I was contacted by Debra D'Agostino, a writer for CIO Insight magazine, about the perception gap between the CIO and his or her lieutenants with regards to IT/business alignment. Her article Can a CIO Become too Strategic? is very good and worth your time if you are currently in an IT leadership role or considering one as a career choice.

Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance

Here's a good Sarbox article from CIO Insight Magazine for those of you in smaller public companies: Sox Hurting Small Business?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Apologies to Lou Gerstner

Last month I created a posting called Learning from the Past. In that post I inadvertently referred to Lou Gerstner as Lou Gersner. My apologies to Mr. Gerstner for misspelling his name.


Monday, February 14, 2005

What Happens When a Company is Defined by the CEO

Here's an interesting article in my local paper. From the Associated Press: A celebrity CEO rarely shines on the company's bottom line. It brings to mind something a professor told my grad school class. He said something like, "How do you know when a company's in trouble? When the CEO is spending more time on his or her image than on the business of the company."

Then there was the CEO I used to work with who had an image consultant. He was eventually replaced by a CEO who didn't. In all fairness, there are high profile CEOs who run successful companies. For instance the article doesn't mention Bill Gates or Larry Ellison.

Outsourcing Java Projects to Students

This morning I read a thought provoking editorial in the JDJ: Digital Edition titled Outsourcing to Students. While searching through computer science classes at various colleges, Yakov Fain found the same thing I have: it appears that very little Java is taught at the undergrad level.

Mr. Fain talks about outsourcing projects to college students as opposed to outsourcing to developing countries. I like that idea, but not for the reason you might suspect. As someone who is (will be) looking for that next generation of developer, I want to see more Java classes being taught at the colleges in my area so that I will have a larger pool of developers to choose from. Too, it would be fun to have a group of college students work on one of my programming projects as part of their course work...or even have some computer science students co-op with my company.

Even more telling on the issue of Java education is the feedback I get from articles I've written. Most inquires, questions, comments, etc. come from developers beyond the US border. I'm not totally sure what that says. Admittedly my articles tend to tackle easier development issues. But, I don't think the US is so far ahead in Java programming that the solutions I write about are not germane. Rather I think other countries are ahead of America...especially on Java development that extends beyond websites into the enterprise. The issue that may ultimately drive companies to offshore outsourcing may be one of expertise rather than cost.

Prove me wrong, if your college is teaching Java courses and training the future for a career in IT, let me know. If your company is doing enterprise Java development (not necessarily EJB) let me know that too.


Thursday, February 10, 2005

More Java Media Framework

Spent some time with Java Media Framework this past week. Biggest complaint: not enough documentation. At least there's not enough good documentation. I'll admit that I haven't bought a book on JMF, but I've poured over articles, newsgroup entries, etc. A lot of people are talking about it...mostly from the client side.

The link for the JMF API can be found here. If you try running some of the examples, there's a couple of things to keep in mind. The examples are set up to run RTP over UDP. This means that the program that is transmitting the audio, video, etc. is transmitting to a specific IP address on a specific port. Translation: you need to know the IP address of the computer receiving the stream. The receiving program needs to know the IP address and port of the sending program as well. I'm going to give you a big hint here: you will need 2 computers to run the examples. The reason: you can't transmit over a port and receive over that port at the same time.

JMF works well sending and receiving via RTP. But, I cannot get Windows Media Player to receive the transmissions (it does not like the RTP:// address). This is frustrating. My goal is to create streaming media server whose streams can be received by a generic player such as the Windows Media Player, not something requiring an applet I create or JMStudio from Sun.

When an opportunity arises, I'm going see if JMF allows for RTSP transmission. I think this will solve the problem. Unfortunately the docs are a little vague on this. More later. If you've worked with JMF, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Small Prejudices

Saturday morning I went to the barber shop to get a haircut. I say barber shop because that's what it is. Not to be confused with a hair salon, the old fashioned barber shop I go to feels more like a sepia toned memory from my childhood. No pictures of models on the walls, abstract art, and no vanity fair or GQ magazines scattered around. You'll find no books filled with the latest hair styles. There are no backlit glass shelves filled with a variety of hair care products...the proper use of which baffles me.

My barber shop's plain white walls are covered with area high school, college, and pro sports lineups and schedules. There is an old magazine rack filled with copies of Sports Illustrated, Car and Driver, and Field and Stream. While you wait for a haircut, you can read the stats on your favorite team, find out about the latest car models, learn to tie a fly, or discover the 10 tactics for taking a trophy buck.

There are eight old fashioned barber chairs, standing side by side like a group of old soldiers in parade formation. Behind each chair dutifully stands a barber. The youngest of the group is about 50. The oldest close to 70. These guys are the real thing complete with combs, scissors, electric clippers, tissue for wrapping around your neck, brushes to brush away the clippings, and talcum powder to apply liberally to your neck when they're done.

Another interesting feature of the barber shop is the clientele. This shop is frequented by some of the city's leading men; doctors, lawyers, businessmen, name it. A mirror runs the length of the wall behind the barbers. Taped to the mirror are autographed pictures of celebrities, mainly country music personalities. While getting my haircut, I've sat next to CEOs and fry cooks. You never know who will be there.

What does all this have to do with prejudice you ask, we'll I'm gonna tell you. My eight year old son and I walked into the shop. As usual for a Saturday morning, it was crowded...standing room only. My barber, let's call him Ed (not is real name), had an open chair and beckoned me over. Ed is a short balding man in his late 60's. He's soft spoken and a little deaf, which makes for interesting conversations while you're getting a hair cut. I don't know much about Ed's life other than the fact that his wife is ill, and his daughter and her teenage son live with him. After a few conversations with Ed, it is clear he's had a hard life.

Ed is a man of few words...most of them opinions. His favorite subject is Vanderbilt University men's athletics, specifically football and basketball. No matter what the season, I can always count on Ed to offer an opinion on how Vandy can win their next game. If you know anything about Vanderbilt, you know that between football and basketball, the only opportunity for winning seasons comes from the later. I should also tell you that I don't follow Vanderbilt sports closely.

Back to the story. Saturday, Vandy was preparing to play a particularly tough basketball game against the University of Kentucky Wildcats. Ed asked me if I thought Vandy would win. I replied something along the lines of they could if they make all their three pointers. That's when Ed said it. Something that surprised me so much I didn't know what to say. Ed said, "they'll win if that N... plays like he did the other night." Ed was of course referring to one of Vanderbilt's African American basketball players.

Sitting there, hearing that comment I felt a little like a guilty bystander. It is not a word I use. It is not a word my children know. As soon as Ed said it, I glanced around to make sure that my son was out of ear shot. He was across the room engrossed in a Sports Illustrated magazine. I didn't say anything to Ed, I didn't reprimand him or even give him a disapproving look. Rather I sat there in guilty silence thinking about the word.

I don't think Ed meant anything hateful by the word. Ed's a product of another era in the South, an era that thankfully started changing 50 years ago. I am convinced it is a word that he uses all the time. That's unfortunate. Think about his teenage grandson. Imagine growing up and hearing that word from an influential figure in your life. My own grandfather, who lived a life of wealth in relationships and caring rather than money, never uttered that word. At least in my presence. I doubt he said it to anyone. As I said earlier, my children have never heard that word. I know this because they are still at an age of innocence where new words are tested and tried out on mom and dad to gauge a reaction.

No. If I have to fault Ed for anything it's the small prejudices that live inside his heart. The world has changed, we've moved to a different place. Ed's still in the past. I so different from Ed? I didn't challenge his comments or make my objections known. I just sat there.

Silence can mean many things. It can mean both thoughtfulness and ignorance. It can mean disdain. It can mean respect. Silence can also mean agreement. As I've searched my own heart I know I don't agree with Ed, if in fact agreement is the right term. I know I do not hold the same prejudices. I do hold prejudices though. Different ones, but ones I am sure are just as hurtful. Prejudices my faith tells me I shouldn't have. They are hidden. If I search hard enough I can find them though, waiting for an opportunity to come out.

Think about it. What are your small prejudices?

Friday, February 04, 2005

Communication Problems

A colleague forwarded me the following article from FBI Urged to Scrap Computer Overhaul. As I read the article I was reminded of similar, albeit smaller in scale, situations that I've seen over the years. Although I'm not personally familiar with this project, I'll bet the problems result from poor communication. Issues like this happen when the vendor doesn't take the time to really understand what the customer is saying about requirements, but makes assumptions based on perceptions. Likewise, the customer doesn't take the time to understand what the vendor is saying about its system's capabilities. Both sides lose.

One of the missions for those of us in the Information Technology field is to remind our users of their responsibility to clearly communicate their needs. We have to help them do that. We also have to press the vendors about key parts of their solutions (customizations or otherwise) and take the time to learn what the systems really do before we implement them. One way to do this is to attend a training class prior to selecting a product. A training class is far more useful than a sales pitch.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Java Media Framework

I'm working with that Java Media Framework (JMF) this week. If I'm successful in building a streaming media server, I'll probably write an article on it. Or I may just provide the source code listing on this blog.

If you're reading this and have an interest in JMF, email me and let me know. Also, if there's a Java topic that you would like me to write about, let me know that too. I'm always looking for new topics. I'm developing an article now about network intrusion detection using Java.

Technorati search