Thursday, October 31, 2002

/. Moderator Points!!

Every morning I login to Slashdot and meta moderate (rate someone else's moderation). So, here I was, in my normal morning excursion to /. ready to do my part in the community when I saw that today I had Moderator Points. All 5 of them. I don't know why, my first thought is always to warn all my friends to go and post in Slashdot, but I don't think that's the purpose of the system...

If you don't know how the moderation system works in /. (or any other site based on the SlashCode), well, it's basically a random selection of users that access the site regularly and are registered for a minimum of 1,5 years (I think). I'm a member of /. for at least some 3 years, so, in average, about once every 3 months I get to play God online and say who's smart and who's not. But playing god in /. is not really the same thing as playing SimCity or WarCraft III.
As a guideline, you should read all the posts (including ACs) and read the stories that people are talking about before moderating. This seems pretty normal. But I would say that there is a very good reason why, by default, new users only see posts with a moderation => 1 - you just can't believe the trash that people post in /. - well, I for one can't.
It ranges from the standard "You Linux lame f*cks, Windows Rules" to "You can't appreciate OS X if you don't appreciate Gay Sex" and links to the most weird web sites you would imagine (I say that from the URLs posted, not that I have followed any of the links) ;-)).

Cutting a long story short, I've ran out of moderator points now, so am back to being just a normal /. reader and I now miss the divine power to label people as Flamebaits, Trolls, etc...

My director just arrived. I think I'm going to moderate him for a while... ;-))

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Are you free sometime next week?

I was planning to bash one of my so-called Project Managers, but then I decided the poor guy should have a chance to defend himself... so I'm sending him an e-mail instead. If the reply gets interesting I will post it here.

Meanwhile, I do have a problem. In two weeks I'm speaking at a seminar organized by my company about Websphere and Domino 6 integration. I have a working environment, with everything set up, but I don't have any application I can show to the visitors. I don't think I will have time to fully develop one myself, so I was wondering if any of you had a very simple, almost "out-of-the-box" app I could use to show off "my" knowledge of Websphere?

If you do, please do contact me. Thanks.

That's it for today, I'm tired and kinda pissed off.


Tuesday, October 29, 2002

How do they manage?

The past few weeks have been quite interesting. For several reasons, the most important being some research needed for a study, I've been back at Software-test-land - the place where you try to make things work with software you've never seen before.

Software-test-land might be one of the main reasons why I started my IT career - challenges. How do you manage to connect Oracle to Notes doing LDAP lookups on Active Directory? How do you get a browser to read information contained in a OLE object in a Domino server behind a firewall? How do you get that freeware tool you downloaded to actually do something?

These are the kind of challenges I like. So, it was without resistance that I dwelved, again, in IBM's product offerings for e-Business - in other words, pratically every product that starts with Websphere - Websphere Application Server, Websphere MQ, Websphere MQ Integrator, etc...
The objective is to find the best solution for an integration project. If you don't live in any other planet most of your time, you've probably seen that IBM is taken as a major player in all these "eternally-emerging" standards for the next level of software integration: Web services. I've read articles with DB2 admins saying how easy it was to install and deploy Websphere based applications that would get all data from one place and put it somewhere else after hashing it, serializing it, etc. Mainframe guys saying how good Java is as a development platform. Even Domino developers defending IBM's Java strategy.

But there's one thing I can't understand: How do they manage to install the software? How?
I've tried installing Websphere for approx. 2 weeks with no results. It took me about 3 days to get DB2 installed. Having spent my last 13 years working with software, I don't commit the obvious mistakes - I always RTFM, seek installation information on the web, etc. Still, DB2 would either not install stating 10 weird error messages in some language completely unknown to me (with a brilliant final touch - an empty error message box), or pretend to install correctly only to fail starting the services or even - this was the best - not being able to connect to itself.
After having DB2 miraculously running on the test machine, it was time for Websphere. Cutting a long story short, it didn't work. When it finally did work it wasn't me who installed it. And it stopped working one day later, after applying the (IBM recommended) fixpak 3 for DB2. The server froze to a complete halt. Reboots didn't do it.
Back to the drawing board I thought of doing a scientific experiment: Websphere Application Server is a Java Application Server. There are other JAS on the market. Are they all this hard to install?

I set my browser off to the BEA website and downloaded the Weblogic server software. Differences start here: BEA Weblogic has a download size of approximately 90 MB. I needed two CD's for DB2 + Websphere. Downloading both products from the web will snap 700 megs out of your bandwidth. And some 400 megs more for FixPak 3, the infamous.
Download finished in about 15 minutes. Launched the executable. It asked me a few relatively simple questions (directory, if I wanted samples, etc) and was running within 20 minutes.

That was it. Didn't give cryptic error messages, didn't complain about service packs or anything. It just worked. And it's now about a week later and it still runs.
Do those guys that write all those nice things about websphere and IBM and Java and XML actually install the thing? I'm starting to doubt it.

Next step, since I still need more than a JAS to test the software, I pulled off a CD with MQ Series (now called - surprise, surprise - Webpshere MQ). MQ Series is not known as being unreliable software (then again, neither is Websphere AS), so I assumed it would install correctly.
Again, I RTFM'ed, I followed a fully standard procedure and the thing seemed to install correctly. It finished the installation with some strange error message (but in english!) basically saying that some thing or things might have gone wrong during the installation. It pointed me to a 146 KB log file it created during the installation. I now understand why it took so much time to install - it was writing to the log file. Do you have any idea how many text characters can exist in a 146 KiloBytes file?
I searched the file for "error" (I was not supposed to read it all, was I?). It didn't find it. Started looking into the file and realised that I should look for exit codes, in the form of 0x00000000. In the old days, an exit code of 0 was supposed to mean OK, so I followed this dogma and found what was wrong:

16:34:26 ProgressBarBegin at 59666, 93%. Delay 857.
16:34:26 Launching process 'C:\IBM\MQSeries\bin\AMQIMIGS.EXE' 'C:\WINNT\TEMP\_ISTMP0.DIR\AMQISUPN.DLL'; dir 'C:\IBM\MQSeries\bin'.
16:34:28 Starting migration of SCMMQM files
16:34:28 Finished migration of SCMMQM files
16:34:28 Deleted SCMMQM registry entries
16:34:28 Process ended; exit code 0x00000001
16:34:28 ProgressBarEnd at 59668, 93%. Elapse 6; actual 2

I really like the part about the migration of SCMMQM files. First, WTF is SCMMQM? Second, I didn't install it. Third, why were the SCMMQM registry entries deleted? Fourth, who created them in the first place?

This gave a very clear insight about how MQSeries was going to behave in the near future. I am still waiting for MQ to finish setting up the default configuration (whatever that means). It's now over one hour since it finished the installation, for crying out loud.
This made me think about why Microsoft software is so loved by the MCSE's of this world: because it installs correctly. It's not because it can do something that other software doesn't (er...) or because it's super performant or any other presumably valid reason. It's just because it installs correctly. And that makes the MCSE feel good. And his boss will feel good about him. And he gets the girls and the drinks, while I am stuck with some MQ process that, from the sound of it, is trying to destroy my hard disk.
IBM, your software might be great, but your software testing guys, specially the one testing the installation, suck big time. I'm pretty sure the same guy that used to test the installation procedure for System 36 is now testing Websphere AS. 100% sure.

Better luck next time, I guess.

Cada weblog tem um primeiro post. O primeiro post deve, em princípio, explicar porque é que decidimos ter um weblog, etc, explicar a toda a gente porque é que decidimos ter tempo para nos dar a conhecer ao mundo (como se alguém se importasse com isso) e escrevermos coisas sobre um sujeito que nos insteressa: nós próprios. Ou seja, deixa de ser um weblog, passa a ser um egolog. Enfim, chega de parvoíces...

Ando para aqui já há algum tempo para fazer isto. Aliás, desde que li este artigo na Wired 9.05 que achei piada ao conceito. Não pelo facto do Bill Gaitas ler o Weblog do tipo, mas sim por me parecer uma muita boa razão para desperdiçar o meu tempo.

Eis que, devíamos estar em Novembro 2001 ou coisa que o valha, o meu grande amigo Zé Miguel (com Z grande) decide lançar o seu bzlog, e continuei a achar piada à coisa. Mais uma vez, não fiz nada.

Hoje, em vez de trabalhar no que devia, decidi que ia criar o meu 'blog. Não me apeteceu chatear os meus amigos para me darem espaço de borla nos servidores, o que até não teria sido má ideia, pois podia ter usado o MovableType para gerir as minhas páginas, mas penso que por enquanto posso viver com o método antigo (ler: "à mão").

Enfim, pouco interessa. Esta é a versão do meu blog. Se vocês estão a ler isto, em príncipio é porque me conhecem, por isso dispensa-se a parte da apresentação. Não digam a ninguém da minha família para ler isto, podem ficar chocados ;-)).

Monday, October 28, 2002

So, welcome to my blog. I had a previously failed attempt at this, but this time it will work ;-)
This site might have content in both Portuguese and English. If you can't read both, well, that's too bad for you. Don't ask me to translate it either - give it a try in Babelfish.

The bloody belgian winter is now starting, and it's pitch dark by 18:15. Don't ask me what I'm doing here, I don't feel like answering during winter time. Hope you have fun reading the stuff I put in here, and contact me whenever you feel like.